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From S 2 U

First of it’s kind...

a magazine just for YOU

Summer is here and so is the long awaited publication created to raise global awareness on domestic violence. Welcome to the premier edition of Xceptional WOMAN Monthly, a positive, informative magazine specially created with you in mind. It is geared toward providing awareness on domestic violence and to serve as a voice for victims and survivors of domestic violence. It is high time we break the silence surrounding this global epidemic called domestic violence. Let’s cease to treat domestic violence as a private matter, a couple’s problem, a domestic “squabble” or a “fight” that should be settled by the couple. It is not a momentary loss of temper or the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Violence is a choice the abuser makes. Domestic violence is a CRIME! I join the communities across the United States and the world in mourning the lives that have been lost to domestic violence and I extend my deepest sympathy to families and friends who are now struggling in the aftermath of these horrific crimes. Let’s remember those women who lost their lives to domestic violence and be the change we want to see in the world! My name is Shola Adebuga, an advocate for women and girls who believes that women should be loved, treasured, respected and protected and not the opposite. To me, any man who abuses a woman is NOT man enough! I urge you to join me in this advocacy work against domestic violence. My unwavering commitment to end domestic violence made me create this Xceptional WOMAN Monthly magazine you have in your hand and I want it to be a safe haven for all victims and survivors of any age to feel free to speak; get your voices heard and heal your broken spirit. We have something for everyone in each edition, such as our Xceptional Teens supplement where we educate teenagers on the dangers of dating violence and how to seek for help. We also have the Xceptional Child supplement for your little ones to read and enjoy while you treat yourself to each edition. We publish true stories about women who were or are still in abusive relationships. Please do not let the tragic stories we have to share with readers become yours. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek help ASAP! Your life may depend on that moment of extreme courage. We will feature inspiring survivors that have overcome obstacles, conquered self doubt and are striving beyond domestic violence. It’s time to celebrate and recognize these strong women! Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by an individual to establish and maintain coercive control over an intimate partner. It can be through intimidation, beating, terrorizing or threatening the significant other. Acts of domestic abuse consist of physical, verbal, psychological, and/or sexual abuse. Are you currently experiencing such a situation? I want you to know that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control, “A woman is battered every 8 to 10 seconds in the United States.” That is an astonishing 3-4 million times a year. You don’t deserve to live in abuse. It’s NOT your fault. YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HIT, CALLED NAMES AND/ OR TORMENTED. When you decide to leave or decide to get information, that’s what Xceptional Woman Monthly advocates are for; so please reach out and get help. To all women still in violent relationships or marriages and hoping for a change, giving excuses for their partners, if it hasn’t been OK or changed for the past years, YOUR PARTNER CAN NEVER CHANGE! YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HIT, CALLED NAMES AND/ OR TORMENTED! TRUE LOVE SHOULD NEVER HURT. Hanging in there for another minute may cost your life. Remember that “No one can make you inferior without your consent.” To everyone, refusing to say a word perpetuates the problem. We all need to care about our community because each of us has a role to play in combating this global epidemic. Please make an impact in your community. Learn about domestic violence, start or join an action – volunteer at your local shelter, raise signatures on a petition for legislation that address violence against women and girls, donate or raise funds, organize a vigil or a walk against violence, host a house party and screen a relevantly themed film. Raise awareness on your social networking sites, sign the global call for action on www.saynotoviolence.org to tell governments around the world that you want them to make ending violence against women and girls a top priority. Every signature raised and every person reached is an action! Every second counts. If you see it, report it. You can save a woman’s life just by asking how she’s doing. Please take the pledge against domestic violence today. There is a guide on how to approach someone you suspect is being abused on page 10. Help create hope for our world. TOGETHER, WE CAN! Until we come your way again, stay safe and live purposeful lives. Always remember that there is help out there. Anyone that is concerned about their safety and that of others or concerned about feeling threatened or powerless in their relationships should call the state domestic violence hotline listed on page 9 through 11. You don’t have to be ready to walk out of the door. You can just call and talk to someone about what’s going on and find out what kind of help is available to you. Please write to me about how you’re keeping your head up and how we can help. Until I read from you, always remember, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. YES YOU CAN!!! TRUE LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT!!! SHOLA ADEBUGA Publisher/Founder of No More Pain Initiative sholaadebuga@consultant.com 3


XCEPTIONAL WOMAN MONTHLY Words to Ponder

~Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are nothing and your life is meaningless, Those are just the words of someone who has lost their way!~ REMEMBER: The most dangerous time for a victim is right after leaving the abusive relationship. You must cut all ties with the abuser, change your phone number, and more. You need to have and follow a safety plan, to get one, please call your local resources listed on page 9 to 11.

XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Monthly TEAM Founder /Publisher…………….Shola Adebuga Associate Publisher ……………Adewale Omoniyi Contributing Editor……………Isaac Dachen Contributing Writers ………….Isaac Dachen, Denike Adebuga, Lyn Twyman, Christina Mial, Abosede Adebuga Design Executives………….......Natalie Miller, Charles J. Nelson, Matt Kandarian Marketing Executive…….......…Betty Adex, Korede Onayinka, Shade Ahmodu, Jinzu chung, Okiki Laoye Associate Counsel ……..…….... Paul Jabour, Attorney at Law The Law Office of Paul V. Jabour (USA) Taiwo Onayinka Strict Attorneys (Africa) Address all correspondences, including request for advertising rates, sponsorship, and address changes to: 68 Dorrance Street. Suite 165, Providence, RI 02903 ©JMA Media Group/ No More Pain Initiative 2011 No part of the contents of this magazine may be reproduced by any means without permission.

INSIDE THIS EDITION 3 From S 2 U 5 Xceptional Letters 6 Adam & Eve 8 Break The Cycle 12 Survivors’ Circle 13 Woman 2 Woman 14 DV across Borders 15 Immigration & Domestic Violence 18 Through their Eyes 20 Behind Bars 21 Xceptional Woman Interview 29 Men’s Perspective 30 Channel Rule Your World 34 Xpression Wall 35 Saluting our Troops 36 Special Feature 37 Commemoration 38 Proclamation Wall & Xceptional Men of Fame On the Cover:

* Christina Mial, Photography by Photography by Jackie & Joyce Byrd.Makeup by Tiffany Mial Stylist: Crystal McCullers * Lyn Twyman

Xceptional WOMAN Monthly

The Official Publication of No More Pains Initiative Published by JMA Media Group 68 Dorrance Street. Ste 165, Providence, RI.02903 P: (401) 516-1208 F: (401) 521-8204 Email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

Please read: Talk to a professional! This publication is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified expert. XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Monthly is a nonprofit publication with outreach programs dedicated to empowering women and families. Xceptional WOMAN Monthly welcomes editorial comments and letters from its readers. Xceptional WOMAN Monthly reserves the right to refuse advertisements and does not necessarily endorse its advertisers. All editorial and photos submitted become the property of JMA Media Group and cannot be returned. The publication accepts no responsibility for the consequences of actions taken from written implied information within. Articles published in this magazine, which are contributed from outside source, express the opinions of their authors. XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Monthly is published 12 times a year and distributed free of charge. The advertising deadline is the 4th of each month for upcoming edition.

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XCEPTIONAL

Mails

Thank you for your awareness and advocacy as well and I look forward to working with you as well and XWM, it is going to be an amazing magazine and I am thankful to be given the opportunity to work with such a powerfull, graceful, and empowering woman. You continue to do what you do as I will continue and together, along with everyone else who stands AGAINST dv we can make that change that is so desperately needed. Thank you for all that you do, continue to be an Xceptional Woman!!!! Ralonda Broadus,Denver, Colorado It is sad we live in a world that turn their heads to domestic violence and don’t want to get involved but if only one person would have known what I was going through and knew how it it was killing the real me on the inside I probably would have not stayed so long. Keep pushing Shola; God shall surely keep blessing you for your wonderful work. I look forward to pushing my story through and contributing to such a God sent magazine. Once again thanks Shola for allowing so many to use their voice through you. Marquerita Moore, ,Indianapolis IN I love XWM slogan, a global voice against domestic violence. It is amazing when we look at it this way, we are all connected. Love and Hurt should never go together, ever ever ever! if only all would live the dream everyday, we would have so much love bouncing around, is my dream and my wish. Rana Wilson, United States Thank you so much Shola for your inspirational work. I will continue to work on mine and as far as changing my name...you can use my real name. I am proud of what God has done for me and how he saved me from death. Kaye Queen, Colorado Springs, CO It is so easy for others to sit and judge people who have lived in Domestic Violence situations. Firstly, judging survivors such as ourselves is wrong. God is the only one that should be judging anyone! Secondly, can they honestly say they would have handled it so much differ-

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ently? But would they have? This is why we are telling our stories to make people aware. Hopefully those who have sit and judged us, read our stories. Maybe then they will have a better understanding of Domestic abuse. This is why am glad that you step up to give us a voice and medium to tell our stories and make people aware. Thank you XWM! Angela T. Kingsport, TN

you sincerely." - Author Unknown. "Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." – Voltaire Love , Olapeju Agunbiade, London, UK

I am so proud of you Shola for making it all happen!!! Carla Martin, North Providence, RI

I can't wait to get your magazine please mail me a copy. I truly am glad that this magazine is coming out, blessings Carol Freeman, Brainerd, MN

Sis I love the things you bring to our attention. This is so true and so unfortunate! Thank you for shining the light on it! Christina Laz’a Mial, Raleigh, NC You are such an inspiration. I really thank God for people like you...you are really making the world a better place for all. Asanansi Asanansi, Lagos, Nigeria Thanks Shola. It is hard because people think you are negative when you want to speak out and tell the truth. I rather be viewed as negative than be abused!!! Survivor Harden. Southfield, MI Thank you Shola for the reminder. This especially holds true for relationships. If ANY elationship is not healthy or not exactly measuring up to ur standards,, it's best to be rid of it, stay by urself, and when the time is right, in God's time, happiness will come. Marisa DiTomasso, Seattle, Washington Oh Shola, I’m feeling this magazine. Omg, I could cry... Danielle Dale Compte, USA Yes Advocate, i agree we must rid ourselves of excess baggage. Edinah Masanga, South Africa Shola, For your thoughtfulness and generosity, from you I have learned much of life's philosophy - Thank

It's a blessing knowing you too...I know that you are and will continue to be a blessing to MANY!!! Sgt. Deiler, Fort Lee, VA

So proud of you!!! Awesome! Great message!!! Zahonnara Cortes, Fort Campbell, KY Shola, its been 9 months since my sister was murdered (domestic violence). I still can’t believe it happened. I am so happy for you and your magazine. May God continue to Bless you. Love you, and thanks for everything. Glad to have been your AIT instructor. You are a blessing. Sfc Lequante Harris, Baghad, Iraq

To submit a letter to the publisher e-mail: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com or Letters may be sent by regular mail to this address: Letters to the Publisher 68 Dorrance Street, Suite 165, Providence, RI 02903 Letters, not exceeding 200 words, must include your full name, address and telephone numbers for verification. Letters become the property of Xceptional Woman Monthlyand may be edited for publication. High volume prevents our acknowledging receipt of submissions.


Adam & EVE

The Narcissistic Parent, the Narcissist Lover, and the Destruction

On December 7, 1965, in a hospital in Brooklyn New York, a woman gave birth to her baby girl, me. My sister, Danielle was two years old at the time. My family was picture perfect in the eyes of neighbors, relatives, and friends. My dad, Anthony was a very hard-working, kind, and loving man. He provided very well for his family. He was an aircraft mechanic for Pan American Airlines. In his spare time, he followed his passion for photography by taking pictures mostly at weddings, and other family functions for his customers. His other passion was rebuilding automobiles that he bought from junk yards. My father was born in Europe but grew up on the outskirts of Rome, Italy. My mother was born in the United States and earned a living as a bank teller. She worked her way through the ranks and was promoted to supervisor. As you can see, I did not grow up in poverty. The New York City Public School System provided an excellent education that prepared me for college. I had many close friends while growing up. I have good memories of some very exciting family vacations; my dad took well advantage of his employee discounts at Pan American Airlines and took us on vacations. Supposedly, I had a picture perfect life that many friends envied. However, those that were envious did not know what went on behind closed doors. My dad a man of honor, raised me to be very proper, he instilled high values and morals in me and my sister. He raised me to work hard and to be honest. He was very respectful and valued manners. He ensured I spoke properly and was well educated. My mom on the other hand, was the opposite of everything my dad stood for. In fact, I lived through a major tug-of-war growing up with dad the loving parent while mom was on the hateful side. I was not my mom’s favorite daughter, Danielle was. I happened to be “daddy’s girl.” Although dad treated us equally and was proud of his family, I think he secretly favored me to make-up for what was lacking in my relationship with my mom. My mom was a narcissist, and she truly believed that my father and I owed her something in life. Nothing we did was ever good enough for her. She always criticized dad, and me, and once tried to lock me up in a mental institution. She tried her best to prove me crazy.

As I grew older, the division in my household grew stronger. I remember as a toddler, spending many family gatherings isolated, sitting in the corner of my living room in my rocking chair listening to my music while the rest of my family celebrated one thing or the other in the kitchen. I remember spending most of my adolescent years home, cleaning the house and laying on the couch, watching TV while my sister was out having fun with friends. Although at school I had many friends, I spent most of my free time in the house. I tried to behave in a way that I would bring some warmth from my mom all to no avail. As I grew older, she managed to alienate me further from dad and my sister. She also built a wall between my sister and dad so that my sister hated me and my father as much as she (mom) did. My household was very emotionally stressful. I remember being sick and my mother never believed me. She always said that I was faking illness just to get attention. One time, I was burning up with fever and couldn’t walk. I was so weak. Mom and dad argued back and forth about taking me to the doctor. Dad eventually won but paid a hefty price for taking me to the doctor. I had mono and spent that summer in my bedroom. I was 15 years old at that time. As I grew older, the isolation thickened. Mom took dad’s paychecks every week and barely left him with gas money to get to and from work. She took her paychecks and set up bank accounts for herself and my sister. Danielle had showed me mom’s secret one morning; it was a very nice nest-egg for the two of them. It got to a point where mom and dad stopped communicating as she practically ignored him. This went on for years and caused a great strain on communication in the household. My sister’s hatred for me and dad grew worse. By this time, I had started working. My jobs were my safe havens and sanity. I remember having to share my paycheck with dad because he never had money. He suffered silently. His outlet was his cigarettes. He knew he was getting sick and he didn’t care. He gave up inside, he lost his will to live. He tried so hard for me to have a social life. He asked my sister to take me out with her and her friends. Though she honored his requests, however I paid the price for that, so did dad. I was included in my sister’s circle of friends. My sister found ways to belittle me, insult and embarrass me in front of her friends. It was very strange because though I appeared to have a happy childhood, on the inside, I was in so much pain that I cried myself to sleep for many years. Although

I got love from my father, it didn’t make up for the verbal attacks of my mom and sister. I was called various disparaging names like crazy, air-headed, stupid, selfish, and lazy on a daily basis. It was so much that I almost believed them myself. My mom always threatened to lock me up and she and my sister described in detail the physical and sexual assault I would experience while in a mental institution or in juvenile hall. As I grew older, closer to 18 years old, my dad smoked more and more and became very sick. He developed lung cancer and did nothing to prolong his life when the doctors were hopeful. My mom, of course, was in charge of his care. She and my sister did nothing to care for him. When he was home, I remember him sleeping on the couch crying. His cries woke me up in the middle of the night. I sat with him all night, fed him, bathed him, and comforted him while my mom and sister slept peacefully and comfortably. In the morning, they would go out to school and work, while my dad cried from the pain. I missed a lot of school and work to care for him. I became isolated in the house with no money.Mom would complain that we had no money because dad was sick. When dad was in the hospital, I remember the doctors saying that there was nothing else they could do. He was dying, but mom kept ordering the chemo and radiation. Dad’s insides were burnt to a crisp and he couldn’t eat. In my heart, I know she was trying to speed up his death because fortunes were coming her way. Finally he died, and about a month later, mom had money, a boyfriend, and was living a good life. I remained isolated.By this time I was self sufficient,my part time jobs paid for food, clothes and the rent she insisted I paid to her because she was the “poor widow”. She and my sister continued with the brainwashing, making me believe I was crazy and needed a psychiatrist. It was awful. My heart was hurt and my spirit was damaged. I tried to finish college before I moved out, but she wasn’t letting that happen. She wanted me to have nothing, and that’s exactly what I had when I moved out at 23 years old. I became pregnant by a boy who, of course, was emotionally unavailable. I wanted to have the baby anyway but mom dragged me to the abortion clinic. After the procedure, I moved out and never looked back. She tormented me for years and my life was a big struggle. She and my sister would track down all my employers to let them know what a crazy and bad person I was. I finally gave up and joined the military at age 29. I had hopes

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for a bright future and my success would be my revenge. On June 17th 1996, a soldier gave birth to her baby boy at Madigan Army medical Center, in Washington State. That soldier was meand that baby boy was my son Timothy. Almost one year later, I was honorably discharged under parenthood chapter. As I expected, my son’s father never lived up to his responsibility. My son wasn’t exactly conceived under the traditional circumstances,out of love or agreement of any sort. It was through a “date-rape”. Date rape, like Domestic Violence is very tricky, hard to prove. I made the loving choice to raise my son by myself and focus on healing and recovery, rather than acting in anger against the father. I chose healing and recovery over justice and revenge. I had strong faith that God would lead the way.

When my son turned one, I moved back to New York and re-entered my mom’s life, I guess, to find closure and to see if I could resolve the frosty relationship. I thought she may have a change of heart after she met my son, her grandson. After all, he was (and still is) a very special, loving and happy boy. I thought my son’s spirit could change my mom. Unfortunately, I set myself up for a major disappointment. My mom and my sister began the brainwashing once again. They told my son, although he was only a toddler, they still told him what a bad person I was and how incompetent of a mother I was and that was why I needed them to take care of him. I found a teaching job immediately upon returning home from the military. My mom was retired then, so she agreed to watch him while I was at work. I remember coming home one day and met my son, on the living room couch. The windows were shut but it was a beautiful warm, sunny day. My mom was in the kitchen washing her floor with pure bleach. The fumes made me gagged, you could imagine what it could do to a toddler! Another day, I came home to meet my son still in bed with his diaper saturated. He had a high fever and broke out in hives. My mom was outside working on her car. Again, my spirit was so damaged. I truly believed my mom that I was going to have a nervous break down and that I was crazy. A year and a half later, I moved out of my mom’s house. I stayed in New York though because I enjoyed my teaching job, but I refused to have contact with her. I did seek counseling only to find out that I wasn’t crazy after all! Unfortunately, my mom’s stalking and perseverance in committing me to an institution drove me out of New York. I relocated to Washington State, just me and my son, two suitcases and a box of toys. We had nothing. I stayed with

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friends for three months and I found my way from there. I prayed to God to send a loving man my way to complete my family. I had no friends, no family, just me and my son and a job. Anyway, one year later, God answered my prayers. I met a “wonderful” man 10 years older than me. He rescued me and my son. After dating for a while, we moved in together and it didn’t take long before the abuse started. First series of abuse were the verbal attacks, you know, the name callings, telling me I was fat, lazy stupid, undermining my parenting and turning my son against me. Of course he was the victim because he made the money, paid the bills, and we took advantage of him. The scene was all too familiar, I was reliving my childhood! I couldn’t find a way out because of the lack of resources; I lost a couple of good jobs. I tried to go back to teaching since I had 5 years experience under my belt as s a teacher when I lived in NY. I was not licensed, so I started an online graduate program and was substitute teaching. With time, the abuse worsened and gradually aggravated to something else. The threats, pokes, shoves, the gun and the cheating. It was awful. He destroyed my computer so I couldn’t finish my program. He set my son up and accused him of stealing and threatened to send my son to jail. That was when I said it was enough and had to stamp my foot . I needed to get a job and sort myself out. I knew the owner of a grocery store fairly well and he hired me immediately. I used my son’s college fund to put a deposit on an apartment. I had to stay in the same apartment complex because nobody outside the area would rent an apartment to me. I had nothing. I moved into a very small one bedroom apartment, where we still live, three and a half years later. I gave the bedroom to my son, bought him furniture with his college money and I slept on the floor for about 1 ½ years until I was able to buy a sofa bed and dressers to put my clothes in. During the time I worked at the grocery store, my common law husband harassed me everyday at the store. It was a violent roller-coaster ride, one day he loved me and the next day the attacks came. He once took me and my son to his summer home, then kicked us out. We were stranded in the street for hours. Another time he took us there, he and his friends tried to drown us in the river. The abuse turned very ugly and he devised new forms every time. He later claimed I owed him because he took care of me, that he was the only one that will put up with me, and that nobody would ever love me like he does. It went on and on. I found a better job further away from home. The pay wasn’t much, but it was a good stepping stone. At this point, he tried to turn me

into a prostitute. He bought me a car so that I could drive to and from work. Had two accidents because the tires were bad, and the radiator blew up. He said that I owed him because he bought the car. He refused to help me fix it. I was bidding my time and finally got another job. I closed the doors for good at this point. He had my car towed when I disconnected my phone and neither he nor his friends could call and harass me any longer. This was May of 2009, and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since. About two months ago, he moved out of the apartment complex. I am finally at peace. I ride the bus almost 5 hours a day to and from work, but I don’t care. I’ve been with my company for almost 2 years. I did begin an MBA and I am now almost half way through the program. I have hopes and dreams for the future. He still stalks me from time to time, I don’t even pay attention. I thought by now that I and my son would have the resources to live in a descent apartment and buy a car. But this economy is hard so I stay grateful for what I have. The finances are the biggest struggle. My focus is on my son because the relationship caused a lot of damage to both of us. We take one day at a time, with a smile each day. Thank you for reading my story. I hope it empowers you to: “BELIEVE in yourself enough to follow your dreams and to receive everything your heart desires; TRUST yourself enough to know you are doing the right thing even when everyone else falls on the opposite end of the spectrum; LOVE yourself enough to know that you deserve better in life, and with PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE you will reap the benefits of the seeds that you sow.” This has been my philosophy Sincerely, Marisa DiTommaso

Have comments on this story? send them our way and we will publish them! xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

SUBMIT YOUR STORY Subjects’ names and identifying details are changed unless stated otherwise by author.


Break theCYCLE One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence. July 2000. The commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 survey of women’s health, 1999) Approximately 1.5 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. Since many women experience multiple victimizations every year, an estimated 5.9 million physical assaults are perpetrated against U.S. women annually. (National Institute of Justice & Centers For Disease Control, National Violence Against Women Survey, 1998) A woman is battered every 8 to 10 seconds in the United States (3-4 million times per year) More women are injured from battering than auto accidents, mugging and rape combined. Every day, more than three women in the United States are murdered by a male intimate partner. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence by Intimate, 2000)

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an abuse of power. It is when one partner usually a boyfriend or husband attempts to control and dominate the other, usually a girlfriend or wife through violence, threat of violence, or by controlling the couple’s finances and social life. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN In this section: What Is Violence Against Women? > Forms of Violence Against Women > What can I do to help a victim of domestic violence? > What can I do as a victim of domestic violence to help myself?

WHAT IS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN? Violence against women is about power and control. • Violence against women cuts across race, religion, income, class and culture. • Violence against Women is deeply embedded in all cultures, so much so that millions of women consider it a way of life.

Violence against a woman is a crime, and a violation of her human rights. No woman deserves violence, ever!

Some of the horrific examples of VAW in the world today are marital rape, sex

selective abortion, battery during pregnancy, child marriage, date rape, female infanticide, forced suicide of widows, murders, female genital mutilation, incest, child prostitution, pornography, rape, sexual harassment, ”honor” killings, forced prostitution, trafficking of women. FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Violence against Women is not restricted to physical abuse. Psychological and emotional abuse Threats, insults and put-downs can be just as damaging as physical abuse because they endanger a woman’s feelings of self-worth and her ability to control her own life. Social abuse This form of abuse occurs most frequently in a domestic situation where a woman is kept totally dependent on her partner and isolated from the support of others. Financial abuse A woman who is prevented from seeking employment, or who is not allowed to have a bank account or keep any of her income suffers financial abuse. Having no control of money keeps a woman totally dependent and at the whim of others, even for her basic needs.

Sexual abuse

Being forced to do or watch something sexual without the woman’s consent, or to have pain inflicted on a woman during a sexual act can constitute sexual abuse.

Physical abuse Hitting, punching, slapping, biting, kicking, bruising, breaking bones,

throwing things and using weapons are obvious examples of physical abuse. The denial of human needs, such as food, water, sleep and even shelter are also forms of physical abuse. In relationships where domestic violence occurs, the violent behaviors can include: • physical abuse (including slapping, hitting, punching, pushing, biting, kicking) • threatening to hurt you, your relatives, friends or work colleagues in some way damaging property such as furniture, the house or pets in order to frighten and intimidate you • emotional abuse (making you feel worthless, criticizing your personality, your looks, the way you dress, constantly putting you down, threatening to hurt you, your children or your pets) • verbal abuse (including yelling, shouting, name-calling, and swearing at you) • sexual abuse (forcing or pressuring you to have sex or participate in any sexual activities that you don’t want to) • financial abuse (taking control of the money, not giving you enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your money, not letting you have a say in how it is spent) • threatening to stop providing care for you if you don’t do what you are told (This sometimes happens to people with an illness, disability or impairment who rely on another person to care for them) • social abuse (controlling where you go, not letting you see your friends or family) • depriving you of the necessities of life such as food, shelter, medical care and the company of other people such as your family and friends • spiritual abuse (forcing you to attend religious activities against your wishes, prohibiting you from participating in the religious practices of your choice) • stalking (constantly following you by foot or car, constantly calling you by phone, text message and email, or staying outside your house or workplace) • doing similar things which upset you and make you fear for your safety.

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What can I do to help a victim of domestic violence? One-third of all female homicides are killed by husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or ex boyfriends. (NCJA Justice Research, “States, Federal Government increasing focus On violence against women” Sept/Oct 1990, P.3)

IF YOU ARE IN DANGER

• Call 911 • Call your local hotline • Call a national hotline • U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or TTY at 1-800-787-3224 • U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, which will automatically connect you to a local U.S. rape crisis program near your phone number’s area code By seeking your rights, by using the protections and resources available to you and becoming an advocate for yourself and your family, we hope you can come to see yourself not as a victim but as a SURVIVOR! HOW TO GET HELP * If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, don’t stay silent! * Get help and take action. * Get support from family, religious leaders and friends you trust. * Talk to a trusted friend or call your community’s domestic violence hotline. * If you need immediate emergency help, please call 911.

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· As a friend, let her know she is not alone. Battered women feel they don’t have anyone to talk to. Speak openly with her about your suspicions and encourage her to talk. · Be a telephone buddy. Women are often isolated and are not allowed to go out. · Read and collect brochures and information to pass on to her. Talk to others. The more you know about this problem the more you can offer to someone in need. · Talk with her about options and help her plan for crisis. Show belief in her ability to cope with change. · Support her no matter what she decides to do. · Provide a place for her and the children to stay for an afternoon or evening during tense times. · Provide transportation to shelter and safe homes. · Baby sit while she goes to lawyers or court, looks for housing, employment, etc. · Go to court and take notes and provide support. Help her find housing. · Help her on moving day, either from her house, or from a shelter to a new home. Call the police if you hear a neighbor being battered.

What can I do as a victim of domestic violence to help myself? · Make an EMERGENCY PLAN. Make a plan of what to and where to go if you are in danger. Tell your children of your plan if they are old enough to understand. · Take your children with you if you can. If you must leave them temporarily, make sure they can join you as soon as possible. See a lawyer as ssoon as possible about custody. · Whatever your vehicle, make sure it has petrol. Keep an extra set of keys and emergency numbers in a secret hiding place. · Always keep some money hidden to help you get away. · Take identification, important papers and necessary medication for you and your children. · Keep a list of important phone numbers in the hiding place with your money. · Work out a code word that can be used on the phone with someone you trust if you are in danger.

Resources Depot Domestic Violence advocates are often the best people to talk with in order to understand your options.. They are there to help you identify choices and to help you look at the risks and benefits of those choices. Advocates will not pressure you to do something you are not ready or able to do, and are there to listen, inform and support you. Their services are free and confidential.

State Coalition List

Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence (334) 832-4842 Fax: (334) 832-4803 (800) 650-6522 Hotline Alaska Network on Domestic and Sexual Violence (907) 586-3650 Fax: (907) 463-4493 Arizona Coalition against Domestic Violence (602) 279-2900 Fax: (602) 279-2980 (800) 782-6400 Nationwide Arkansas Coalition against Domestic Violence (501) 907-5612 Fax: (501) 907-5618 (800) 269-4668 Nationwide California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (916) 444-7163 Fax: (916) 444-7165 (800) 524-4765 Nationwide Colorado Coalition against Domestic Violence (303) 831-9632 Fax: (303) 832-7067 (888) 778-7091 Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence (860) 282-7899 Fax: (860) 282-7892 (888) 774-2900 In State DV Hotline Delaware Coalition against Domestic Violence (302) 658-2958 Fax: (302) 658-5049 (800) 701-0456 Statewide

Day One

24-hour Helpline(1-800-494-8100)


DC Coalition against Domestic Violence (202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193 Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence (850) 425-2749 Fax: (850) 425-3091 (850) 621-4202 TDD (800) 500-1119

Georgia Coalition against Domestic Violence (404) 209-0280 Fax: (404) 766-3800 (800) 334-2836 Crisis Line Hawaii State Coalition against Domestic Violence (808) 832-9316 Fax: (808) 841-6028 Idaho Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence (208) 384-0419 Fax: (208) 331-0687 (888) 293-6118 Nationwide Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence (217) 789-2830 Fax: (217) 789-1939 (217) 242-0376 TTY Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence (317) 917-3685 Fax: (317) 917-3695 (800) 332-7385 In State Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence (515) 244-8028 Fax: (515) 244-7417 (800) 942-0333 In State Hotline Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence (785) 232-9784 Fax: (785) 266-1874 Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (502) 695-5382 Phone/Fax Louisiana Coalition against Domestic Violence (225) 752-1296 Fax: (225) 751-8927 Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence (207) 430-8334 Fax: (207) 430-8348

Michigan Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (517) 347-7000 Phone/TTY Fax: (517) 248-0902

North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services (701) 255-6240 Fax: (701) 255-1904 (888) 255-6240 Nationwide

Minnesota Coalition For Battered Women (651) 646-6177 Fax: (651) 646-1527 (651) 646-0994 Crisis Line (800) 289-6177 Nationwide

Action Ohio Coalition For Battered Women (614) 825-0551 Fax: (614) 825-0673 (888) 622-9315 In State

Mississippi Coalition against Domestic Violence (601) 981-9196 Fax: (601) 981-2501 (800) 898-3234 Missouri Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (573) 634-4161 Fax: (573) 636-3728 Montana Coalition against Domestic & Sexual Violence (406) 443-7794 Fax: (406) 443-7818 (888) 404-7794 Nationwide

Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition (402) 476-6256 Fax: (402) 476-6806 (800) 876-6238 In State Hotline (877) 215-0167 Spanish Hotline Nevada Network against Domestic Violence (775) 828-1115 Fax: (775) 828-9911 (800) 500-1556 In State Hotline New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (603) 224-8893 Fax: (603) 228-6096 (866) 644-3574 New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women (609) 584-8107 Fax: (609) 584-9750 (800) 572-7233 In State New Mexico Coalition against Domestic Violence (505) 246-9240 Fax: (505) 246-9434 (800) 773-3645 In State

Maryland Network against Domestic Violence (301) 352-4574 Fax: (301) 809-0422 (800) 634-3577 Nationwide

New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence (518) 482-5464 Fax: (518) 482-3807 (800) 942-6906 English-In State (800) 942-6908 Spanish-In State

Jane Doe, Inc./Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (617) 248-0922 Fax: (617) 248-0902

North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence (919) 956-9124 Fax: (919) 682-1449 (888) 232-9124 Nation wide

Ohio Domestic Violence Network (614) 781-9651 Fax: (614) 781-9652 (614) 781-9654 TTY (800) 934-9840 Oklahoma Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (405) 524-0700 Fax: (405) 524-0711 Oregon Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (503) 230-1951 Fax: (503) 230-1919 (877) 230-1951 Pennsylvania Coalition against Domestic Violence (717) 545-6400 Fax: (717) 545-9456 (800) 932-4632 Nationwide The Office of Women Advocates, San Juan, PR (787) 721-7676 Fax: (787) 725-9248 Rhode Island Coalition against Domestic Violence (401) 467-9940 Fax: (401) 467-9943 (800) 494-8100 In State South Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (803) 256-2900 Fax: (803) 256-1030 (800) 260-9293 Nationwide South Dakota Coalition against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (605) 945-0869 Fax: (605) 945-0870 (800) 572-9196 Nationwide Tennessee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (615) 386-9406 Fax: (615) 383-2967 (800) 289-9018 In State Texas Council on Family Violence (512) 794-1133 Fax: (512) 794-1199 Utah Domestic Violence Council (801) 521-5544 Fax: (801) 521-5548

Vermont Network against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (802) 223-1302 Fax: (802) 223-6943 (802) 223-1115 TTY

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Women’s Coalition of St. Croix (340) 773-9272 Fax: (340) 773-9062 Virginians Against Domestic Violence (757) 221-0990 Fax: (757) 229-1553 (800) 838-8238 Nationwide Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (360) 586-1022 (360) 586-1029 TTY (800) 886-2880 In State (206) 389-2900 TTY

Washington State Native American Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault (360) 352-3120 Fax: (360) 357-3858 (888) 352-3120 West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence 304) 965-3552 Fax: (304) 965-3572 Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (608) 255-0539 Fax: (608) 255-3560 Wyoming Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (307) 755-5481 Fax: (307) 755-5482 (800) 990-3877 Nationwide

You Can Help

Join your State coalition to make a difference in your community!

Today would have been one of my closest friend’s birthday....if she had not been taken from this world on August 26, 2007 due to a senseless act of domestic violence. If you know anyone in a bad situation, please encourage them to seek the help that they need to get out of the situation. May God bless all of the beautiful souls that have fallen victims of such horrific crimes. Ryan Batchelor SOURCES:

Becky Lee Women’s Support Fund National Coalition against Domestic Violence Cost of Intimate Partner Violence against Women in the United States. 2003. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” December 2006 Rhode Island Coalition against Domestic Violence Longmont Ending Domestic Violence Initiative Women Aid Organization

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If you are in an abusive relationship

° Know that you are NOT alone- there are many women like you who are or have been in similar situations. ° You don’t deserve to be hit, beaten or threatened. ° Know that you are NOT responsible for your partner’s abuse. ° Tell someone you trust. Talk to a friend, relative, your health care practitioner, neighbor, or counselor. ° Call a domestic violence hotline to get the support and information you need. Every call is confidential. They can provide you information about legal assistance, shelters, support groups and other resources.

Is your partner Narcissistc? Does he/she turn every conversation to him/herself, expects you to meet his or her emotional needs, constantly criticizes you, focus on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his/her own behavior, can’t handle criticism and gets angry, does not obey the law,engage in physical or sexual abuse, exploits others with lies and manipulations, uses emotional blackmail to get what he/she wants? Write to us

Xceptional Woman Magazine 68 Dorrance St., Suite 165, Providence, RI. 02903 Email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

SUBMIT YOUR STORY We are currently seeking personal stories by women about their experiences with domestic violence. If you would like to share your story, please email us, xceptionalwoman@publicist. com

SHOWCASE YOUR ORGANIZATION & ITS MISSION TO XWM READERS Call for details & placements.

THIS SPACE IS FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION For reservations, please call 401.516.1208


Survivors’ Circle

If they can do it, YES, you can too A survivor of domestic abuse is someone who has endured intimate partner violence such as sexual, emotional, physical, and/or financial abuse. I am a survivor of a domestic violence marriage. My ex-spouse was physically and verbally abusive to me, to our son; he was verbally and emotionally abusive. I live in North Carolina and was able to find an organization called Interact that helped me and my son hid from my ex-spouse while we found legal counsel. To all women and children of abuse, please go to your state’s website and search for agencies that help abused women and children. It could save your life. Submitted by: Mara T My daughter survived a domestic violence marriage. Her ex-spouse separated her from her family and friends. The emotional, mental and physical abuse almost destroyed my daughter. She lost so much weight she looked sick to the point her eyes sunk in. it was not until a coworker showed her scars that were hidden under her shirt that she realized she was not alone. This coworker had almost died at the hands of her ex-spouse before she found the courage to leave. This lady helped my daughter seek aid. I credit her for my daughter being alive and healing today. Submitted by Kaye B

Escape is possible with children. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. My ex calls me a kidnapper, but what I did is not against the law. As a married woman with children, I have the right to come and ago anywhere in the world as I like. If you want to leave, leave to prior stating the divorce, you are free to move to any state. Once a court case has begun, the court has the right to keep the children in the state. I put 1800 miles between us, it was the best thing I could have done. Get a shelter like the battered women’s shelter, and let them help you start a new life. You will You will need counseling and assistance with getting your life back on track. I tell you that a shelter is much better than being dead. I stayed in the BWS for 3.5 months prior to getting housing. We lived on my student loans while I got my education. Today, I am close to finishing my MPA degree and I have a great job. My pain was easier to deal with because I was living with hope and joy for a better tomorrow. I am free and I know from my experience the joy and happiness are there for you also. I hope that you can find a way to leave safely and then find a path to happiness. My savior is Jesus Christ and He takes care of all my needs and I have joy each morning. Submitted by: Paula F

I too was in a violent relationship and was angry all the time. It is difficult to release emotional, physical or mental abuse if it has been repeated over multiple years. I have a child and found my anger was affecting her, I did a few things that helped. First, I prayed a lot for God to help me deal with the anger. Secondly, I had to find self-worth in myself. Women need to realize that we are worth more than the anger allow us to be. Thirdly, counseling, I seek a counselor that deals with domestic violence. I hope this helps. God bless. Submitted by Ella M

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for NO MORE PAIN AWARENESS TOUR Call 401.516.1208 For participation and sponsorship. Coming to a city near you. Don’t miss it, together we can eradicate domestic violence!!!

THINKING ABOUT HOW TO GIVE YOUR BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION THE BOOST IT DESERVES? Call 401. 516-1208 For a placement in Xceptional Woman Monthly * Several Options available*

Touch a life by sharing your story of triumph over domestic violence Email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

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Woman

2 Woman

By the time I was 19 years old, I had already

experienced what it was like to be in an abusive relationship. Naturally, being as young as I was, I blamed myself and was afraid to talk about it with anyone. At the time I honestly didn’t even consider it abuse because I fought back. In my mind, abuse was when you are constantly battered and did nothing about it. Another thing I didn’t realize at the time was the different types of abuse. How many times do we hear the words “domestic violence” and automatically assume it just means to be hit? Later in life, after learning that it comes in the physical, emotional, verbal, and even spiritual forms I saw that I was a victim to them all…. plus some. How many times had he told me that I would never amount to anything? How many times had I been made to quit my job and have to depend solely on him for my finances? Let’s not mention the countless times my going to God was mocked and my prayers were told they would not be answered. All of those things were abusive in their own right. But I didn’t know. With my being afraid to talk about the things I was going through, there was no one to tell me otherwise. So I endured. Looking from the outside in on my life, you never would have known that I was in unhealthy relationships. Those that did didn’t say a word because I didn’t say one. How painful it must have been from the outside looking in to stand back and watch as the one they loved not even have it in her to love herself. I know that there is a saying that states “the more I love myself, the more I can love others”. The truth is, I totally disagree with it. I loved this man more than myself, my family, and sadly my children. What matter the most to me at the time was what he thought. How he felt. What he wanted. And now that I look back I see that I was not even considered in his mind half as much as he was in mine. If he didn’t get jealous, that meant he didn’t care. If he didn’t get mad, that meant he didn’t want me. If he didn’t argue, surely that meant there was someone else.

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Speaking of someone else, I also couldn’t let go of him because the thought of him being with another woman actually terrified me. In the back of my mind, I felt that SHE would become more important. I was afraid that the man “I knew he could be” would actually come to be with her. I knew that deep down inside he was a good man. If only I could stick it out through the storm then everything would be okay. I mean we did have some good times so eventually the good times would outweigh the bad, right? Hummph. That’s the way I thought. But I was wrong. Almost deathly wrong! To think that I actually put so little value on my life after Jesus gave his on the cross just for me! I seriously did not know my worth. My remaining in this relationship was not only physically hurting me but it was mentally killing my children. My poor babies had to watch and remain silent as I endured all the abuse and they were helpless. If I had stopped and thought of what they were going through for just one second, maybe I would have had the strength to leave sooner. But, I thought I was hiding it from them as well. I thought if they saw me smile and still carrying on with the daily responsibilities of motherhood, maybe they wouldn’t notice anything was wrong. Well, the walls were not as thick as my cloudy judgment. They knew. Not only did they know, but they too hurt. It was so unfair to put them through that. They didn’t ask to be here. They deserved the chance to be children and I wasn’t giving them that. It is so hard to walk away. Especially when the one who hurts you is also the one that provides for you. I remember going back and forth in my mind trying to figure out how I was going to do it. What was I going to do? What about bills? What about transportation? I asked myself a lot of “how” questions and the fact that I couldn’t come up with an answer is what made me stay. But then one day I decided what about God? Why not try Him? I mean, I had tried everything else. I put my trust everywhere else. Why not give Him the same chance to be number one in my life. What was the worst that could happen? So with that small piece of faith, which is all it takes, I decided to step out. I walked away. Not knowing the answer to all the questions I previously had asked myself. I just knew that I trusted Him. And I knew enough of His word

that if I just did that much, He would take care of the rest. Not only has my relationship with Him grown, but my children and I are closer as well. Communication is better. It didn’t happen overnight, but we sleep well at night. I don’t go to bed in fear anymore. I am now at a place in my life where I am able to talk to others about what I went through and how I got through it. Suffering an abusive relationship is not what we were created to do! We all were strategically placed here with a purpose and plan designed by God. He created us in His image. Reading Jeremiah 29:11 has taught me that God thinks of me more than I think of myself and what He has in store for me is greater than what I wanted for myself. About the author: Christina Mial, 32, currently resides in Raleigh, NC. She is the mother of four children. Christina is currently the Public Relations Executive for CuteStylz a clothing boutique owned and operated by Crystal McCullers. She attends TrueWay Church of God In Christ Jesus located in Apex, NC where the Pastor is Gwendolyn Scott. Pastor Gwen has a ministry in the church, Silent Sins in the Church, geared towards abuse survivors. Currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Christina is also an advocate for women who has and is suffering from abuse. A strong supporter of Interact and the North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, Christina believes in sharing her story with others so that they know they are not alone!

IF YOU HAVE CONCERN(S) ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP OR SAFETY, PLEASE CALL NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE

1-800-799-SAFE

FOR IMMEDIATE HELP OR YOUR LOCAL COALITION *Check page 10 to 13 for numbers*

...True Love SHOULDN’T hurt!


Domestic

Violence Across Border

Violence Persists in Spite of law in Northern Uganda

By Rosebell Kagumire

On Saturday July 31, 2010, a 30 year-old woman was brutally murdered by a brother in-law in Ogan village, Pajule, Pader district northern Uganda. Susan Adong--who had three children, was seven months pregnant. According to the police report, Adong was murdered because the family held her responsible for her husband’s death. Adong’s husband died in a prison after he was remanded over several cases of physical abuse against Adong. After her husband’s death, Adong was chased away from her marital home and sought refuge at her parents’ home. On the fateful day Adong had gone to collect a few of her belongings, she was brutally axed several times to death. Adong is just one of hundreds of women in Uganda who lose their lives in domestic violence. Domestic violence has been steadily increasing over the last five years that finally the Ugandan parliament has enacted a law this year. The new law brings tough penalties for offenders, and grants power to low level authorities to tackle domestic violence while re-emphasizing women’s rights to resources. More than 78 per cent of women continue to experience domestic violence. According to the 2009 Police Crime Report, there was a rise in reported cases of deaths resulting from domestic violence, from 137 in 2008 to 165 in 2009. But for women in northern Uganda, such laws are yet to make a difference where domestic violence-related deaths are increasing as many people resettle back in their ancestral homes after living in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps for over a decade. Pader was the heart of the fighting between government soldiers and rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army who were forced out to the Democratic Republic of Congo about three years ago. Barbra Otuku, a social worker who works with a local organization in Pader district, Women and Rural Development Network, had counseled Adong for months after she reported physical assault cases against her husband. “Adong was being abused, and when she took a step to report to the police and the husband was imprisoned, she lost her property and finally her life. This is the situation of many women

where I work,” said Otuku. Otuku said the major issue behind the increased wave of violence against women is the post conflict trauma and the way people have been resettled with little support. “When the people lived in camps for years, the humanitarian organizations provided food and children had schools to attend. Now many have been sent back home with no support for livelihoods and all this work falls on the shoulder of women,” she said. “Some women have been killed by husbands who don’t find food in the home after hours of drinking.” Last year, the government of Uganda launched a Peace Recovery and Development Plan for northern Uganda but there was no mention of specific interventions regarding mental health and trauma that the people have suffered for decades. Many women in Pader fell victim to some of the most gruesome abuses during the two decade war ranging from rape—in which many were forced by rebels to have sex with their own children, burnt alive, physically abused, and many were forced to kill. Shaka Francisco, the District Police Commander of Pader, said eight women have been murdered by their spouses in domestic wrangles over the last seven months. PROPERTY RIGHTS The right of women to own property here is non-existent as women are pushed out of their homes any time in a customary land tenure system controlled by men. “People in Pader--as they go back to villages, women who have become of victims of land grabbing are mostly widows and girls whose parents died; and close relatives wanted to take over their land, which they would have inherited,” said Shaka. The police only get to intervene when a life has been lost or a woman has been seriously harmed. Due to cultural attitudes that label any report of abuse as airing your dirty linen in public, many women do not report cases of physical abuse. POLICE Otuku also blames the police handling of women for few reports. “If a woman comes to report to the police, whether it is sexual or physical abuse, they are asked taunting questions before they even record the case,” said Otuku. “These questions that bring shame to the victims make many stay away. Women are asked why they were walking alone in case of rape or what did you for the man to beat

you in cases of physical abuse.” Also public institutions like the police are not well facilitated to intervene and carry out community policing. A whole district like Pader, which has over 60,000 people, had no vehicle. Police officers have to walk long distances to crime scenes; likewise, victims have to walk long hours to report. Even though many saw the passing of the law on domestic violence as a vital step to address the problem, itsimplementation still faces a lot of challenges--especially cultural beliefs. As many as 77 percent of women in Uganda still believe it is acceptable for their husbands to beat them. Susan Oregede, a program officer for Prevention of Gender Based Violence at Oxfam in Uganda, has written about the law that “many aspects of the new law will strengthen the fight against domestic violence, but the law alone may not make much impact in the fight against domestic violence.” As the rest of the population is moved to resettle, women shoulder the biggest burden of providing for families. The law gives local councils a mandate to try cases of domestic violence, bring fines for perpetrators, and penalize for injuring or endangering the health of partner. It’s illegal to deny a partner the economic or financial resources to which they are entitled. But for most women in Uganda, and in post conflict communities-- especially where government structures are still very much nonexistent, such a law cannot protect women in the short term. For Barbra Otuku, she believes women’s empowerment through economic development will lift women out of the cycle of abuse that they are currently stuck in.

Rosebell Kagumire is a Ugandan journalist with experience in television, radio, and journalism. She is currently completing an MA in Media, Conflict and Peace studies at University for Peace (UPEACE), Costa Rica. She has contributed articles on international justice for Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and has a big interest in health reporting, having written for the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). RESOURCES Violence Against Women of Northern Uganda: The Neglected Health Consequences of War (May 2008) The Risk of Return: Intimate Partner Violence in Northern Uganda’s armed conflict (2009) “As if We Weren’t Human” ; Discrimination and Violence Against Women with Disabilities in Northern Uganda (Human Rights Watch, August 2010)

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Immigration

• Advice on how and where to get copies of important documents you’ll need

& Domestic Violence Immigrant women, whether in the US legally or illegally, face particular challenges when they find themselves in abusive relationships. Language barriers, cultural barriers, fear of authorities, and threats from abusers to take their children or turn them over to authorities combine to make the already challenging process of escaping abuse exponentially more difficult. While isolation is often one of the primary tools of an abuser in ANY relationship, immigrant women often face isolation issues to the extreme: An abuser may permit little or no contact with the outside world, may cut off communication with family and friends back home, and keep them at home to prevent them from making new friends in their new communities (especially with those from her own culture or who speak her native language). The innate problem of language barriers adds to the problem. Immigrant women may not be allowed to learn to speak, read, or write English. This makes it easier for an abuser to lie to her about what any official documents regarding her immigration status say, so even if all her paperwork is in order and requested status has been granted, her abuser can make up any story they want to in order to keep her dependant and afraid. It also means that her options of seeking help outside her home are limited. She might see billboards on the side of the road, or community service messages on television from agencies and programs that could assist her, but if she can’t understand the message, she’ll never pick up the phone to make that call for help. One of the most powerful ads ever made about domestic violence is a poster produced by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence that shows a casket draped in flowers. The caption reads: “He beat her 150 times. She only got flowers once.” A chilling warning and one that drives its important message home in a hard way - to those who understand it. But if you couldn’t read who the message was from (seeing the name of the organization on the poster is an important part of understanding the message), or the caption, the ad could be mistaken for one for a florist, a funeral home, or a warning about some disease that you should be inoculated against. The next time you see an advertisement for domestic violence services; ask yourself how you would interpret the message if you didn’t speak English. Many messages about domestic violence or abusive relationships show women crying or looking sad, and can easily be interpreted as ads for anything from depression to eye drops. Immigrant women, just like many native women, may also be under the mistaken impression that services or help are only available if there has been physical violence in the relationship; or, their culture might accept physical violence from a husband as normal, or might even go so far as to embrace murder (euphemized as “honor killing”) as a husband’s or other family member’s right in some circumstances (particularly in cultures where

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a wife is considered to be the “property” of her husband). Victims may believe that authorities will not enforce laws on behalf of illegal residents (they WILL!), or that other legal protections like restraining orders are not available to them (they ARE!). Abusers may convince victims that their actions are not crimes or that the victim has no legal standing or recourse. Unfamiliar with our multi-layered law enforcement system, immigrant women often believe that any police officer can whisk them off to jail or deport them due to their status. The reality is that the average police officer or sheriff’s deputy really doesn’t care about immigrant status, nor do they check on it unless there has been some criminal act committed which they are investigating. They care about more immediate issues such as if you have warrants for arrest for some crime or infraction like failing to appear for a traffic ticket, or, if you are driving, that you have a valid driver license. Other than that, ICE/INS are the ones who enforce immigration law and the truth is that generally speaking, they are NOT going to show up and take away children and put the victim in jail or on a plane back to the country of origin. There are illegal immigrants in this country who have committed multiple felonies and served prison time, yet even many of THEM are not being actively “hunted” for deportation. So long as an immigrant is trying to be productive member of society (not committing crimes, etc.) and has initiated applications to further the process of becoming legal, ICE/INS has more vested interests in HELPING victims than they have in trying to remove them. But physical violence, while often dangerous and escalating in nature, is often the LEAST of the worries or challenges faced by victims trapped in abusive relationships or marriages. Along with physical isolation, financial isolation is often one of the hardest confinements to break. They may be unable to work due to their immigration status, or may not be able to find work “under the table”. They may be afraid to work under the table, fearing additional legal problems. Their abuser may forbid or prevent such efforts or interfere with any opportunity they find by causing problems on their job, disabling their car, or making threats to report them. They may not have access to bank accounts (controlled by the abuser) or may not have necessary documentation to open accounts of their own (either afraid to, or perhaps because the abuser has control of or has destroyed their documents). So what can I do? Most importantly, if you are an illegal immigrant, DO NOT reveal your immigration status to anyone except an attorney working on your behalf or to a domestic violence advocate. You DEFINATELY need to be working with an advocate, so contact one in your area. They can assist in: • Safety planning until you can leave • Making plans to leave an abusive relationship

• Referrals to local services like legal aid for custody, child support, or divorce issues • Sending a copy of your custody order to the US State Department so your abuser can’t get a passport or visa to take your children from the country • Sending a copy of the custody order to your children’s school so they don’t release the children to the abuser • Arranging for shelter for you and your children help to get restraining orders • Help to get documentation of abuse, including filing reports with police • Help get copies of police reports already filed • Obtaining interpretation services for court or other proceedings • Dealing with your immigration issues They can assist whether the abuse has been physically violent or not. It is important that you work with an advocate, and DO NOT CALL IN YOURSELF. You can also find assistance and referrals from: • The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD] • American Immigration Lawyers Association • Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law • National Immigration Law Center • National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild • National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights How will I survive if I leave and what happens with my children? If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR, your green card or resident alien card makes you eligible to work. If you are a refugee or other type of immigrant, you will have to apply for authorization to work. Ask your local domestic violence advocate for help, or ask them to point you to an immigration attorney who can answer this for you. Whatever you do, do NOT forge any papers or say that you are a citizen when you are not - this could have drastic negative consequences in your attempts to live in this country. It might seem like a quick fix, but can hurt you BADLY in the long run. Depending on your state, you might qualify for food stamps, Medicaid coverage, TANF benefits, or alimony/spousal support to be paid by your spouse. Also, if there are children involved, the father of any child is required by law to provide support for that child - even if he isn’t your legal spouse, and even if your immigration status is illegal. The law protects the interests of the child. Again, your local domestic violence


program is your best as well as help to get the children. If your US, they are eligible

place to start this process, court orders for custody of children were born in the for all benefits as citizens.

But if my abuser reports me, won’t I go to jail or be deported? The INS process for deportation is long and complicated. Even if an abuser DOES report you, INS has way more cases than they can deal with, and violent offenders are much more important to them than someone simply here illegally without other issues. If an application for status was already submitted, they are likely to take no action and simply let you continue to wade through the paperwork process. As noted above, local law enforcement (police officers/deputy sheriffs) could really care less about your immigration status, so long as you keep your nose clean otherwise. If you haven’t already started a process with INS, it is in your best interest to get with an advocate to START the process - that way INS will see that you are attempting to obtain legal status. If your abuser has already reported you, and deportation proceedings have begun, all is not lost. You may still be able to obtain a “cancellation of removal.” If you meet certain criteria, the court may waive your deportation and grant you residency. Work with your advocate to get help from an immigration attorney for this process. But aren’t I dependant on my spouse for getting a visa? Generally, it is the U.S. citizen or and Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in the relationship who files a visa petition on behalf of a spouse or child. That means that usually, the abuser has control over when or if the petition is filed. But under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), spouses and children of US citizens or LPRs may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. VAWA allows certain battered immigrants to file for immigration relief without the abuser’s assistance or knowledge, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser. What laws cover this process? The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the law that governs immigration in the United States. The Violence Against Women Act (2000) Title V strengthen language from VAWA (1994) which allowed abused spouses placed in removal proceedings to seek “cancellation of removal,” after three years rather than the seven ordinarily required. The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 (BIWPA) made significant amendments to section 204(a) of the INA, making it easier for battered immigrant women to get through the red tape and removing dependence on abusers. Who is Eligible? • To be eligible to file a self-petition (an application that you file for yourself for immigration benefits) you must qualify under one of the following categories: Spouse: You may self-petition if you are a battered spouse married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Unmarried children under the age of 21, who have not filed their own self-petition, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries. (1) The self-petitioning spouse must be legally married to the U.S. citizen or LPR batterer. A selfpetition may be filed if the marriage was termi-

nated by the death of the abusive spouse within the two years prior to filing. A self-petition may also be filed if the marriage to the abusive spouse was terminated, within the two years prior to filing, by divorce related to the abuse. (2) Must have been battered in the United States unless the abusive spouse is an employee of the United States government or a US military member. (3) Must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage, or must be the parent of a child who was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse during the marriage. (4) Is required to be a person of good moral character. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have EVER done anything wrong. Victims in abusive relationships often are forced or coerced into doing things they normally would not do, or must do things in order to survive. Authorities understand this, and will evaluate your case based on the total circumstances. (5) Must have entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. • Parent: You may self-petition if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. Your children (under 21 years of age and unmarried), including those who may not have been abused, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries, if they have not filed their own self-petition. • Child: You may self-petition if you are a battered child (under 21 years of age and unmarried) who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent. For more information, please see How Do I Bring My Child to Live in the United States? At the INS site. Your children (under 21 years of age and unmarried), including those who may not have been abused, may be included on your petition as derivative beneficiaries. They must qualify as the child of the abuser as “child” is defined in the INA for immigration purposes. Any relevant credible evidence that can prove the relationship with the parent will be considered. Even if you don’t qualify under these, there ARE other ways to gain lawful immigration status. Ask your local domestic violence advocate for assistance. How Do I Apply for Benefits? To self-petition, you must complete and file USCIS Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) and include all supporting documentation. Self-petitions should be sent by certified return receipt mail (or any other method providing assurance of receipt). You should keep a copy of everything you submit, including the application and all accompanying documents, in addition to the proof of mailing. Forms are available in person at a USCIS office, by calling 1-800-870-3676, or through the INS website. Please see the USCIS Field Office locator for more information on USCIS service centers. What is the Process? Notice of Receipt: You should receive an acknowledgement or Notice of Receipt within a few weeks after mailing the application and fee to the USCIS.

Prima Facie Determination: Battered immigrants filing self-petitions who can establish a “prima facie” case are considered “qualified aliens” for the purpose of eligibility for public benefits (Section 501 of the Illegal Immigrant Responsibility and Immigration Reform Act (IIRIRA). The USCIS reviews each petition initially to determine whether the self-petitioner has addressed each of the requirements listed above and has provided some supporting evidence. This may be in the form of a statement that addresses each requirement. This is called a prima facie determinati If the Service makes a prima facie determination, the self petitioner will receive a Notice of Prima Facie Determination valid for 150 days. The notice may be presented to state and federal agencies that provide public benefits. Approved Self-petition: If the I-360 self petition is approved, the Service may exercise the administrative option of placing the self petitioner in deferred action, if the self- petitioner does not have legal immigration status in the United States. Deferred action means that the Service will not initiate removal (deportation) proceedings against the self-petitioner. Deferred action decisions are made by the Vermont Service Center (VSC) and are granted in most cases. Deferred action validity is 27 months for those for whom a visa was available on the date that the self-petition was approved. All others have a validity of 24 months beyond the date a visa number becomes available. The VSC has the authority to grant appropriate extensions of deferred action beyond those time periods upon receipt of a request for extension from the self-petitioner. Employment Authorization: Self-petitioners and their derivative children who have an approved Form I-360 and are placed in deferred action are also eligible for an Employment Authorization Card. To apply, USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) should be filed. Applicants should indicate that the are seeking employment authorization pursuant to 8 CFR 274a.12(c) (14). The Form I-765 must be filed with a copy of the self petitioner’s USCIS Form I-360 approval notice. For more information on work permits, please see Employment Authorization. Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status: Self-petitioners who qualify as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available. They may file USCIS Form I-485 (Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with their local USCIS office. In addition, if you are a battered spouse or child with conditional permanent resident status, please see How Do I Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence Basedon Marriage? How do I File an Appeal if My Application

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is denied? If your application is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal. Can Anyone Help Me? Remember, GO THROUGH YOUR ADVOCATE. If further advice is needed, they can contact the USCIS District Office near your home for a list of community-based, non profit organizations that may be able to assist you in applying for an immigration benefit. Please see the USCIS field offices home page for more information on contacting USCIS offices. Victims of domestic violence should know that help is also available to them through the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD], including information about self-petitioning for immigration status. Can a man file a self-petition under the Violence against Women Act? Yes. Although the self-petitioning provisions for victims of domestic violence are contained in the Violence against Women Act, they apply equally to victims of either sex. Must the self-petitioner remain married to the abusive spouse until the self-petition is approved? No. The regulations only require that the self-petitioning spouse be married at the time of filing. After the self-petition has been filed, legal termination of the marriage will not usually affect the self-petition, but you may want to seek advice from an immigration attorney or legal advocate. Statutory changes, effective October 28, 2000, allow for the marriage to have been terminated (there are some restrictions) within two years prior to the date of filing. What if the abusive US citizen/Legal Permanent Resident already filed a Form I-130 petition on behalf of the victim, and it is either still pending or the abuser withdrew it? A self-petitioner who is the beneficiary of a Form I-130 petition filed by the abusive spouse will be able to transfer the priority date of the Form I-130 petition to the I-360 self-petition. This is extremely important for self-petitioners who must wait for a visa number as an earlier priority date will result in a shorter waiting time. Please see How Do I Get an Immigrant Visa Number? for more information. Adapted from A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C

For more informaion, visit: http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/immigration.shtml

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KELSEY BITTING I LOVE YOU!! RIP CUZ! SHE WAS KILLED AS A RESULT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE...1-1-1999 SHE WAS ONLY 20 YEARS OLD Theresa Bitting

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Through

Their Eyes

YOU ARE WRONG! Deep inside you there is a flame. Let its light guide you, never ever loose sight of it. My story is really my mom’s story. I was more or less the witness. Sorry for its length but read through. My mom met my dad when she was 15. He was in his early 20’s, and he seemed nice, that is according to mom’s account. My mom came from a broken family, so he seemed like a gift from heaven, in an inverted way, I think he was. My dad came from a broken family also. My grandfather was a soldier during World War 2. He would sometimes go into, I think its shell shock, and get violent. He was also an alcoholic. My grandmother was abused, so were my uncles, aunt and my dad. By 16, my mom was out of her parent’s house and living with my dad. They never married, perhaps that was a good thing. Mom said the abuse started out in a small way; a push here, a slap there, nothing too serious, but she loved him, and wanted to stay with him. She thought she could change him but she was wrong. At 25, my mom gave birth to me and my dad said that I wasn‘t his child because I was too dark due to premature birth. Unfortunately, I am not the mailman’s child, I‘m his! Mom thought maybe the baby would bring the family together, and it did, but the abuse didn’t stop. My father was a drug addict. He went back and forth between pot, cocaine, and crack. Money was always an issue. Who cared if we had bills to pay or formulas we had to buy? His drugs were more important. People ask me what my best memory is. I’d like to say something cute and cheesy, like playing with my cousins or meeting Santa Claus. But it’s not. I was young, maybe three or four years old when I witnessed the first case. I remember my father throwing my mother down the stairs and storming out the door while my mother lay on the floor crying. I remember walking up to her and hugging her. Such a lovely memory. The years passed but things never got better. Every night, there was fight over money; there were holes in the walls and bruises on my mom’s face and body. But we stayed, we endured. I don’t blame my mom for not leaving earlier. How could she? Where could she go? And what would happen to me? Joint custody? She tried that once when I was a baby, it didn’t work. And her mother and dad would have tortured her to find out where we were. We couldn’t just leave grandma, she needed us. We were stuck in a world of codependency. It was no one’s fault, it was just a matter of circumstances.

Acting was a way of life. I found that out early about my father. He was a lying cheat, drug addict, and my mom explained to me that this was not the way life was supposed to be. Of course, dad never knew that I knew his secret. For about a decade I lived double lives. No one in school knew. I painted a lovely picture on my face every morning and tried to blend into the scenery. My grades? Wonderful. Why? Because I was going to leave for a college as soon as I could. I was going to make something of my life. I was going to prove that I could do it. Nothing, not my father or my situation was going to stop me. Quiet? Try a mute. Timid? To no end. By night I was a defender. I was the middle man, the peace keeper. It was my job to try everything in my power to stop my dad from hurting my mom. I tried everything, tears, pleading even stepping in the way once or twice. They told me to go away but I never listened. And at night I would sleep lightly so I could keep an ear out for a scream, a smash, a thud; any of those sounds that went bump in the night. I never really knew my father. Really, the only time I saw him was when he was taking money from mom, or beating her. At other times, he would just stay in the back room and smoke. Then it happened. On August 13th, 2003, after being in the hospital for 2 weeks, my grandma died. Her liver and other organs had given out from years of drinking. It was a heart attack that took her life. The doctors had tried to resuscitate her for half an hour, but nothing worked. She was dead. We were staying in her house at the time. All hell broke loose. Dad raided the house and sold everything he could even before grandma was buried. He took the check. I forget what it was, but mom had gotten a few thousand dollars. He spent it all on drugs and prostitutes. Mom had gotten more and more depressed, more and more distant. One day she just couldn’t take it. We tried to leave. We stayed at a women’s shelter for a week. The women there were nice and supportive. I heard some of their stories, not too different from our own. Our only flaw was that we still spoke with him on pay phones and such. After a week, he convinced us to come back. He said things would change and they did, negatively though. They got worse. He started pushing me around more, and the fights got worse and worse. I had overheard mom talking with Aunt Theresa and telling her that when I was at school my dad had taken a fish-tank air hose and threatened to kill mom. She told Aunt Theresa that the only thing running through her mind was whether if she told me she loved me that morning or not.

It came to the point where mom wasn’t allowed to go to work. We couldn’t go on like that, and we weren’t. Tuesday, May 11th, 2004. I was getting ready to go to school. By some miracle dad let mom take me alone. He said she better be home in 10 minutes. On our way, mom pulled over into a parking lot and made the biggest decision of our lives. I was afraid, and I could see mom was too, but we had to do it. I didn’t go to school that day. Instead, we took a long drive. We stopped at her job so she could tell them she needed emergency leave and from there, we stopped by the courthouse to file an order of protection. She then drove to the bank and she took out all the money she had, and that night we stayed in a motel far away from our old home. After 3 or 4 days, we had an apartment and I was enrolled in the school district. We were enrolled in counseling and help with VIBES (I forget what it stands for, but its an organization that helps women in our area) We did still speak with him via payphones. Every night we would drive a few towns over and call from a pay phone. And every night he would pull the same crap. “I miss you, I love you, am sorry... I need my family, things will get better, I promise”. When we did not baulk, it took a different dimension. “Julie, convince your mom to come back, you belong here with me, we’re a family” and eventually “Julie, if you and mom don’t come back I’ll stop feeding the animals and let them starve!” That’s when something sparked in me. My whole life I had always looked for a way to tell him to his face how things were. I always looked for the strength and the inspiration to tell him he was wrong. I found it that night. I told him that he was low. That it wasn’t right and that I wouldn’t convince mom. I told him I didn’t want to go back, because it would be the same thing over and over. I told him that things needed to change, and that if he was willing to sink that low then I didn’t want to know him. He said “Julie, I’m your father!” and I told him my father died a long time ago, and that he was only a drug addict. While he screamed at me over the phone I told him I loved him but that things had to stop and that I was not going to live my life like that anymore. He was still yelling into the phone when I hung up on him. I haven’t spoken to him since. Mom still had the matter of the courts. She decided not to press charges. I love my mom to death, and have never spoken to her in that way before, and do not plan on it ever again, but I told her that she needed to press charges but if she chose to let him off and and continue to speak with him, that eventually she was going back with him. I told her that if the day

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ever came, she would not have a daughter any more, because she could stay there and rot with him; I was not going to go back and be part of it. Enough was enough. She hearkened to my words and pressed charges. She was granted full custody. She eventually evicted dad from the house, and hasn’t seen nor spoken to him in over 3 years. We have established for ourselves a new life. She quit drinking and smoking and is working on a new relationship with an old friend-turned-boyfriend... and no, he’s not an abuser. We don’t always see eye to eye, but he’s a good man to me and mom. She still has her job, and she went through counseling and therapy and walks today a free woman. She’s not perfect, but she is a survivor. As for me, I just graduated last June. My plan for the future? To make a difference in this world. It’s been 4 years since we left, and am a completely different person. I have my emotional scars; they are going to stay with me for a long time. I’ve since broken out of my shell and started to live life again. Every day I wake up to a new world, one that I couldn’t have imagined 4 years ago. I wake up to peace, and love. I wake up to life! One of mom’s old friends once said when she was with my dad. “When you’re in the deepest pit of hell, you have to go through the fire to get out. Sure, you’ll get burned but sooner or later if you stay you’ll be burned even worse.” I don’t doubt in my mind for one second that mom and I would be dead by now if we hadn’t made that decision. “One will never change until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change”. We all come to a point where enough is enough. When you get there, you can’t let anything get in the way of stopping you. We recently started going through the house (he was evicted a long time ago) and it was a bit of a shock walking in. Memories that I’d long since swept under the carpet came back. As I walked through those rooms, I relived my life and I was scared. Not for fear of my father, but for fear of forgetting. God has given me a gift. He has given me a lesson in life, knowledge of what is, and what could be. As much as some of the memories hurt, I know I can’t forget. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. I will not repeat it. The chain breaks here. I’m not going to re-forge it. Never! I know a lot of people who will be reading this are survivors like me, you are all my heroes. My life was a cake walk compared to some. Anyone who has made the change in their lives should congratulate themselves because there are thousands of women and children out there who are still stuck in that hell pit. We are the lucky ones, lucky to live, lucky to have learned. Never forget your past. And to those people reading this who are still in a violent situation, look deep inside yourself. You might think that your abuser has taken every thread of pride from you, that you are nothing but an empty soul with no meaning. But I tell you that YOU ARE WRONG! Deep inside you there is a flame. Let its light guide you, and never ever lose sight of it. You are worth more

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than this. You dserve to be loved, and it is your God-given right to fight for your freedom. Never let anyone tell you you’re worthless. Never lose faith in yourself. You are amazing, and you are strong, and the only reason why the abuser abuses you is because they are afraid of your strength. Freedom is beyond the flames, walk through the fire. Walk to your new life. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth its while ever is. My heart goes out to you. I’ll see you on the other side.

SAD BUT TRUE

...seek help before it’s too late

Love A.S

Are you a child or teenager that have gone through abuse or currently experience abuse in your home? Xceptional Woman monthly welcomes all contributions from you. Email your experience(s) and thoughts about domestic violence to xceptionalwoman@gmail.com with title “Through my eyes”

New England Advocacy Services

New England Advocacy Services

We beside you when We areare beside you when you areyou ready, sitting with you through court, and are ready, sitting with you more.. through court Calland more.. Michelle (401) 743- 7695 Call Mitchelle (401)743-7695

Email:NEadvocacy@gmail.com website: NEadvocacy.giving.officelive.com

My daughter Melissa’s boyfriend was never charged, He beat her on Oct 3, 2008 and then left her for six days in their trailer, she was found on Oct 6, 2008 after I called for a welfare check, she was in the ICU for 9 weeks, she passed away on Dec 17, 2008. To find out about Melissa , Please go to her Memorial web-site, Besure to clck on the links like gallery and more so you can see her.Please lite a candle or leave a condolance here is the web address. http://melissa-platt.last-memories.com Thank you and please visit. Mike Sims My mom was brutally stabbed to death when I was 6 yrs.old. Domestic Violence not only hurts or kills the victim; it also hurts the loved ones. SILENT NO MORE..Is what I say. S.C If you are in an abusive relationship its not worth it. Its not worth the tears, the bruises, the name calling or the energy. IT NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE!!! In January of this year i lost my pregnant aunt who was in an abusive relationship. Her daughter’s father shot her in the stomach and killed her and her unborn baby. The day they found her lifeless body laying in bed with him he was due in court on charges that were from 6 months before because he pulled a gun on her and threaten to kill her while their daughter was in the same house. He got out on bail after he pulled the gun on her the first time. He shot and killed two innocent people on 01/11/2011. Now there is a little girl who lost her mommy and her dad is in jail because he killed her. RIP Trisha and your unborn b a b y ♥ ♥ y o u w i l l n e v e r b e f o rg o t t e n TK

“ When I was 5-year-old my mom told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted yo be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life” John Lennon


BEHIND BARS

… Stories of women behind bars

My daily life is busy in here. At one point in time I chose to be in things that didn’t make sense in my life, but I took a look at my life and changed it around. I wanted something better for myself; I wanted to improve my life so I changed my daily life here in prison. When I first came I did all the programs that I had to do as far as entering into Bedford Hills, then after some years I pushed myself more. I went to school and pushed myself until I received my GED. I didn’t stop there, I also went to college. I wake up at 5:30 a.m., six days a week and go to work at the mess hall by 6 a.m. just to feed 800 women. I get back to my living space at 10 a.m., take a shower and get a nap until 12 p.m. Then I’m off to lunch. From 1 p.m. until 3:50 p.m. I am in my vocational. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday I’m in Network, which is a community meeting on my unit where I live. On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to my college classes from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. So as you can see, in prison you choose to make your life better. I am doing my time and not letting my time do me. Women’s prison is different than men’s prison. Yes, there are fights here, but also there are a lot of women trying to do the right thing. Every day is a struggle, we are told what time to wake up, what time to go to sleep, when to eat, when to shower and what time to go to bed. Prison is a lonely place. If you do what you got to do, your time will go smoothly, but if you choose to go down the wrong path then your time will be rough. Prison isn’t fun and games. You can’t just pick up the phone and call home whenever you want. You can’t just go outside when you want to. You can’t wear what you want. You can’t wear your hair anyway you want. You’re stripped of everything, not just your freedom. When your family comes to visit you they are subjected to some of the same things you are. If a C.O. has a bad day, they

might take it out on you or your family. It’s harder to stay on the right path because there is always someone who is rying to take you off it. Prison i s tough on women because they have to be away from their children and family. Big pieces of us are missing; we have to put our emotions in check. We

can no longer make choices that we would make at home. These choices are made by others. Our dignity is taken away at some point. As for me, the toughest parts of being in prison are being away from my two young children and dealing with my emotions. Even though I go through rough times every now and then, I have had some real positive moments here in prison. I’ve met some good people that have helped me stay on the right path, like Mr. McKenna - he is a very strong man and he is truly a blessing. He is the director of Career Development which prepares you for the outside world. It is a great program and I graduated from there in 2007. My education is going somewhere I never thought it would; it is helping me become a beautiful, positive and productive woman in society. I miss taking care of my mother and spending time with my children, doing what mothers do with their children. I miss my freedom and being able to do things I want to do. I miss the little things, the stars in the sky, the phone ringing and just being able to be free. My biggest regrets are leaving my children in a world all alone and being a follower. Turning to the streets to look for attention which caused me to gang bang and live a life of crime because I felt I wasn’t getting any attention from my siblings. Wanting attention made it easy for me to be manipulated by who didn’t really care about me. I miss taking care of my mother and spending time with my children, doing what mothers do with their children. I miss my freedom and being able to do things I want to do. I miss the little things, the stars in the sky, the phone ringing and just being able to be free. My biggest regrets are leaving my children in a world all alone and being a follower. Turning to the streets to look for attention which caused me to gang bang and live a life of crime because I felt I wasn’t getting any attention from my siblings. Wanting attention made it easy for me to be manipulated by who didn’t really care about me. I wouldn’t be able to go home from prison for only one day because I couldn’t go home and then leave my children again, that wouldn’t be fair to them. If I could go home I would get a job and support my family. I would stay away form negative people and encourage other teens to stay out of the streets and try to show them that the streets would only lead them to prison, where they don’t want to be. I would explain to them that the streets don’t love any body. I would also love to open up a youth center where children would be able to come and feel safe and loved. I’ll give them what I was looking for at their age — guidance Lori D Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women

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Xceptional Woman Special Interview

Suzanne Perry

Can you tell our readers about yourself? I was born and raised near Buffalo, New York and have 3 children; a son who is 21, a daughter 19, and another 7 years old son, all from the same man. I started work as a file clerk at 15 years at the now defunct Kayak Pools. For my senior year of high school, I went for a half day for a half year, because I had enough credits, and I graduated with a Regents diploma in Business Dynamics. I bypassed college by diving right into the fulltime work force. What do you do? I have worked in the IT service industry most of my life, and have worked most positions under that umbrella: receptionist, database manager, helpdesk technician, dispatcher, office manager, project coordinator, sales, contracts, hiring manager, and when my last employer couldn’t pay its staff, I started my own telecommunications business and was a field technician too. In January, 2010, I founded the OP Music House, a community service that supports those impacted by abusive relationships or domestic violence, which I currently do from my home office. I create “Take Your Reins Care Paks” for guys and girls freshly out of an abusive relationship to help them get started. They consist of toiletries, and may include children’s clothes, food gift cards, or other household items that are needed and easily overlooked when suddenly on your own. I plan on adding a music venue for young adults to it this year and actually opening in a public building. You are a domestic violence survivor? Yes. I was with my partner from the time I was 17 years old, and became removed from society for the next 22 years.

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How did you first discover you were being abused? At first, he would start subtle disagreements questioning any boys that I might have known. I didn’t realize he was ‘molding’ me into the person he wanted, like a hunk of play-doh. That would eventually turn into a slap that he said was accidental, or a “reflex,” and it slowly got worse over time. Did you experience any type of abuse while growing up? No. I was proud of the fact that my parents were still together when I was growing up, as most of the people I went to school with whose parents were divorced or had extended families. Once I was in my early twenties though, my parents did get divorced. How long were you involved with your batterer? We started dating when I was 17. I found a photo of us together at New Year’s and I was 19, and it was haunting because I remember it just like yesterday. I was beat up, my chin was bruised and swollen as was my mouth and cheek. I have posted the picture under my Knol profile about domestic violence and I used it in a slideshow too. I remember learning how to layer makeup to hide the cuts and bruises and how angry he would get if it wore off and I didn’t stay on top of it. When did the abuse start? Within about 8 months. How was he abusive towards you? It started by privately insulting my friends, my school, anything that I favored, even my favorite music and my favorite number was ‘wrong’ – he took me apart and built me the way he wanted. If I didn’t comply, I was insulted and/or hit. He put me down, and eventually would take my paycheck, my car, my body, and my dignity. Did he abuse you in the presence of your children? Yes, indirectly though. He would verbally assault me in a round-about way, because he assumed the children didn’t understand his words or didn’t matter. He would reach around and slap, kick or punch me when I was holding our children, thinking he was wise. He would give me a horrific smug look because I had to maneuver a balancing act to take his hits. He would insist that I “take it” and “don’t’ let the children see.” Further, he did it in front of them to prove his power. During one of his raging fits, he had our 4-year-old son kick me in the shin and call me a whore as tears steamed down my face.

Was he abusive towards your children too? When the children became teens, he started to verbally assault them, shaking their confidence, bruising self-esteem; especially because I was never allowed to speak out in their defense; thus keeping himself way up on the throne. And how are your children doing now? The youngest goes to his father’s every weekend and does not have a problem. The oldest transports the youngest and tries to maintain peace. For the most of it, the older 2 children don’t want anything to do with him; but we all grateful we have our freedom now. When did you finally decide to leave? I did leave three times, the first time when I was 21 and our first child was 6 months old. Like so many others, I started to feel guilty and with his pressing of wanting to be a family and convincing me he’d never lay a finger on me again, I returned. I cycled through that behavior two more times and then married him. The absolute final breaking point was when my daughter (16 at the time) confronted me directly and gave me an ultimatum. “It’s either him or me,” she said. She vowed to run away if I didn’t do something about the abusive home life. We made a pact with each other that she could call 911 but only when I said it was okay. And about 10 days later, it happened. What motivated you to leave? Each time, it was fear of further physical damage to myself, and wanting the ability to act like a mother, and make decisions. I was uncomfortable lying and hiding to cover up the damage he did to household items and to my physical self. I hated the feeling of living in the shadows, and being suppressed. I lost myself. What made it hard for you to leave? It wasn’t constant. I left him 3 times, the longest time away was 6 months before returning. The problem was I had no network and felt shamed, guilty, dirty, and like people were looking down at me. It’s very common, because the abuser constantly belittles their victim, bashing their self-esteem and rattling their own perception. How would you describe those years? Horrible. We didn’t sleep together, especially when the youngest was born, because we didn’t have enough bedrooms. He slept on the couch, got into porn and phone sex, and he would stay up all night drinking and smoking while I tried to sleep for work. I would often cry in bed, praying, asking, demanding to know what I ever did so wrong to deserve what I was getting. All days weren’t bad, but at least 3 days a week, I would minimally


be slapped or kicked. At least 5 days of 7, I would be insulted and made to feel stupid or unattractive. He brainwashed me, convinced me my family were all losers. I can still barely absorb how powerful his grasp was over me… my mother wasn’t even invited to our wedding or there for the birth of our last child, because I was convinced she was a whore. I was even hit in my sleep, because I talked about work in my sleep instead of our house. I had dreamt back then of a little house that I was in, with the children and not him. When I told him about the dream, he became enraged and beat me badly; forcing me to say I would never leave him and swear that vulgar things happen to our children and my family if I was lying. What kept you going through during those years? I don’t even know. Maybe the children. There was one time I thought about driving off an overpass; and what woke me up was thinking if I did that, the kids would truly have nobody except for their nasty, self-absorbed father. I worked a lot, as much as I could, even weekends. I tried to work as much as possible to get out of the house, to forget about him and home. Sometimes, I would pound beer down as soon as I got home to hurry and get numb if I sensed he was in an unsettled mood and might have a flare-up. And what did you do afterwards? The children and I slept for nearly 2 weeks. I guess that was Post Traumatic Stress. I went through feelings of uncertainty, fear of him stalking me, which of course he was… he assumed I was going to clear it up just like I always had in the past. This time was different though, because I vowed to our daughter that I would never ever return to him again, I of course chose our children over the beast that ruled us. What sort of help did you receive? What available resources did you utilize when you decided to leave? NONE. This was the most difficult time because I felt completely alone and unable to associate with anyone. Nobody knocked on my door asking if we were okay. Nobody asked if we had enough to eat, or if I needed help keeping the utilities on. It was a horrible dark feeling of having nobody who understood anything that I’d been through. I couldn’t go to neighbors or family. When my daughter and I filed the orders of protection, I was in a daze. My mind was racing and I had no clue how to proceed, with our house being sold and splitting the property and proceeds, all cycled through my mind.

At that time, did you know there were resources available to assist families in abusive situations? AT that juncture, I felt there was nothing that I truly needed, available. I was not about to spill everything to a complete stranger. I didn’t want anybody telling me what to do or where to stay. I wanted to pick up, make a plan and start to live an independent, responsible life as an adult, and reattach with my family. How did you see life during those 22 years? I pardoned a lot of the abuse. I allowed him to give me excuses. I helped him to downplay the insults and injuries. The slaps, kicks, punches, the black eyes, the chipped tooth, the fork prong scar… over the course of all that time, I was molded into a puppet, a doormat. I lost my freedom, my family, my independence and myself. I was there as a support for him, his crutch. I was an enabler. He convinced me that we were ‘soul mates’ and there was never anybody else in the world for each other. I thought he was more well-respected in the community, and that he was smarter. How do you see life today? Today, and with each passing day, I realize how weak my ex was, how he used manipulation to control us, and others, how he used people to get what he wanted, how he would make us feel icky about ourselves. He said I looked pretty when I cry. That should have been a huge red flag. All the times he molested or raped me, completely forcing me to do what he wanted, or suffer the consequences, all the ways I realize that I was just a puppet there for his taking; sickens me. Today I take all the years of torture, combined with the hundreds of stories I’ve read and heard from real people, and add it to my knowledge base to help others out of their situations, guiding them on feelings, confidence, and how to stay out of the relationship. Today, I am recognized for the work I do, but it’s not a reason for celebration. It’s to bring awareness to the victims, and how people can help. See something, say something. I wish someone could have rescued me so many times. I collect information to help raise points for my speaking engagements to inform people how they can be proactive with their friends and loved ones who may be in harm’s way. What are the steps or things you did that has helped you move from being a victim to a survivor? Each day gave me strength and new hope. I was able to have another chance to show my kids that I wasn’t a doormat and that I care

for and about them. I had to learn to not talk to or listen to my ex’s manipulative ways, and stand on my own. To sleep a whole night and wake up to a beautiful sunrise was a big deal to me. To hug my kids without sneers or stares making sure we weren’t talking was a relief. The path from open wound to scar was not easy. The road to independence and confidence was one of trial and error. I had to learn what happened in the world since 1986. I just found out who Pearl Jam was in 2008. It’s sometimes difficult not being able to be in a conversation about a celebrity, commercials, movies or TV, because we haven’t had TV since April 2008. I check the news online, and my radio is on 18 hours of every day, so I’m not oblivious to world events. Now that I speak out, I am told more and more that there aren’t any voices like mine, and I am encouraged, strengthened and honored being their voice. I keep gaining speed and getting louder, especially with the global live concert I do called EXPOSURE Concert: Because love shouldn’t hurt. Now, it’s annual and it might even go on a US tour. How do you feel about the issue of domestic violence in our communities? I feel the public is mixed between not wanting to get involved and not knowing what to do. The biggest deal is if you know someone who is controlled, to at least give them respect. The worst feeling after being told how useless we are, is to be shunned by society. We don’t deserve to be ridiculed, at least be a friend. Offer to listen, a hug, ask if there is anything you can do, and mean it. What is your greatest fear? Nothing. I want to try everything, do everything, have fun and bring people together. I used to fear death and realize everybody does it so enjoy every minute we have, and tell the people that matter, that they matter. Hug, laugh often. Enjoy the little things. The one thing that held me back from talking was my ex’s parents. I felt they were respected and respectable people, and I didn’t want to disturb that pride. Then one day, I thought to myself, ‘Hey! Why am I protecting them, when I was the one needing protection? Where were they?’ and at that point, I hurled fear out the window and was ready to move mountains with my message that abuse is never okay. And a broken bone heals, but a broken soul does not. Abuse does not know gender. People think I might be a man-hater and I am not. I love people and can pretty much find good in every person I meet. Women can be just as bad, if not worse in bashing their

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partners, hacking at their self-esteem and self-perspective. Let’s respect each other, we all have our own stories to tell. I speak out for people, because abuse is control, and it is never, ever warranted or deserved. If you would be granted one wish, what would it be? To raise my virtual lantern of hope so high and so bright that it illuminates the entire world with the warmth of love, being loved, and supporting each other instead of working against each other. What are you most proud of? I’m proud of me. I could have turned out really bitter, or really miserable and depressed. Instead, I turned it into a way to help others who are still in the dark or freshly out of an abusive relationship to stay strong. After 25 years, I quit smoking on my own, shed the oversized 2x flannels, and dress like a girl. I got a new hairdo and a fresh look. Going out to events and meeting people who know my work or that I have personally supported bring it full circle. Awesome! I am very proud of you too. You have written a lot of articles on domestic violence in print and online, can you tell our readers what you are currently doing to educate your community? I host 2 weekly shows on blogtalkradio and 1 monthly show on Think Twice Radio, and organize and host a monthly live music show called Suzapalooza. Through the universal language of music, I put the unity back into community with these. I continue to write all over, including Yahoo, the Examiner, Buffalo.com, national and state level sites for abusive relationships, conduct speaking engagements as far as I can reach. My job will never be completed. Are you living a life on purpose? Absolutely. I choose to appreciate things for their positive value. There is a bad and good side to every action. I figured out how to learn from the bad and accentuate the good. I choose not to let negative people influence my decisions or rattle my cage. What I enjoy doing is sharing my positive experiences through my camera with face book. I photo the sky quite a bit, sunrises and sunsets, of people taking pictures,and whatever I finfind of interest. I like to share. What good is happiness alone? I love to hand out prizes and see the smile on a group’s face when I walk away. I love everything about my life right now, outside of struggling with my basic bills. But I feel things will pan out, I am not worried about it. My needs for my

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children and I. We have sacrificed for each other, I mean I sold my antique kitchen set to pay my electric bill, I am not afraid to sacrifice. Things don’t mean much to me. Family does. What step did you take to be where you are today? Consciously realizing I have the power to control my day. In my coaching or motivation speaking I say things like, if you are running late for work and freak out over a slow car in front of you, don’t get road rage. You should have left earlier. There is always a way to blame the world and it’s time to take your own reins and be accountable. Don’t be judgmental of others, nobody reserves that right. Realize people have their own story and battle scars; and that true beauty starts on the inside and on the inside and radiates out. Any goals or dreams you have yet to fulfill? My goal and dream is to see the OP Music House open to the public, and have Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam cut the opening day ribbon; because it was my finding of them in 2008 with Better Man that got me looking into who they are. I’ve established a real appreciation for their music. I especially love given to fly, and even painted the sheet music to “Alive” in my bathroom. Besides supporting those impacted by domestic violence and providing “Take your reins care packs” for those freshly out of an abusive relationship, the other prong of my function is to offer access to instruments, a music venue and basic recording equipment to young adults 16-24 years old. Local musicians have agreed to hang out, offer tips, tricks and jam sessions. It will be like a mentoring thing and zero tolerance music venue, judgment-free and as a place to exhale. I’d like to offer selfdefense courses, provide independent living coaching and confidence training there as well. What would you say to women and teenagers who say “It’s not his fault”, “He will change”, I will change him” or “When I have a baby for him, the baby will make the situation better” Every person needs to be responsible and accountable for their actions. Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, usually it’s because something isn’t right. There is never, ever a valid excuse to belittle or ma nipulate others. A slap is not accidental. An outburst of anger is never a one-time hing. Run, fast and don’t look back. A tiger does not change its stripes. If you need to have

drinks to be together, that’s a problem. A healthy relationship is one in which each party can be fully comfortable, speaking tabout anything on their mind, exchanging ideas freely, without worry of recourse That’s the beginning of an honest relationship that can develop into a healthy love. If you come into a relationship expecting to change someone, keep shopping. Accept people for who and what they are, that was decided by the time they were 5 years old. How you dress, how you act, how much money you have will never get that person to custom-fit your needs and wants. If your relationship is rocky, please don’t think a child will magically fix it. A child only adds to the frustrations and is a strain for both parties, it will not change the relationship or bring out the best in your partner. I became pregnant at 35, unplanned, and when I saw the positive pregnancy test, I bawled like a baby. He was delighted and within no time, he was right back to the selfish, time, he was right back to the selfish, miserable person he always had been. If the pants don’t fit, try a different size. You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. If it’s not right, don’t try to force it. Any thing else you would love to share with our readers? Be yourself. Walk from drama. There are people out there who want you to crash and burn. Surround yourself with positive people. If you doing what makes you happy, aren’t hurting anyone then don’t let anybody stand in your way. IF someone gets angry because you are happy, that is not a friend. You have to learn who you are, learn to accept yourself, then love yourself. Only then can you learn to love outward. You need to be comfortable in your own skin. Then everything else will fall into place. Thank you for sharing your story with our readers Suzanne. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you helping me on my mission to spread my story and advice to your readers. I hope you will find and follow me online, check out my non-profit website www.opmusichouse.org my artist pages can be found on Reverbnation and Facebook at ‘Suzapalooza’ and my big facebook page is OP Music House. Please join me somewhere along my journey, and hopefully I will bring the EXPOSURE Concert to your town! Peace, friends!


Lyn Twyman

Can you tell our readers about yourself? I have a beautiful family and we live outside the nation’s capitol. I’m an American and proud of my mixed-race heritage. I spent some time studying criminal justice and have worked in state and federal government along with some well known corporations. What do you do for a living? I am a non-profit and business consultant and web developer. Additionally I am an entertainment producer working in film, voice over and literature. I created CourageNetwork. com, an online community and resource for domestic violence survivors and organizations. I also have my own radio program called Courage Empowerment Forum that broadcasts on Party934.com, 94.9 FM Hudson Valley, NY. We feature real stories and resources for domestic violence, crime victimization and issues affecting our communities. Are you a domestic violence survivor? Yes. In particular both my mother and I were psychological abused by my father who was co-morbid. Co-morbid is essentially when someone has several illnesses at one time, any combination of mental and/or physical problems. He was not only abusive but had

a personality disorder and a misdiagnosed mental illness. He grew up in an abusive home and refused to receive help as an adult, although he had available many resources to assist him. This greatly affected my own family and other families that became victims of his control. I am also a survivor of intimate partner violence (IPV) but had my home life and support system been healthy growing up, IPV would not have been a factor in my life. How did you first discover you were being abused? I came to the full realization that I had been abused after the loss of my first child. Through grief therapy, my hidden frustrations surfaced. I was forced to face the years of abuse and trauma that I had suppressed for so long. Did you experience any type of abuse while growing up? Psychological abuse was “normal” growing up. My father would say things to me in private to discredit my mother and he started this at a very early age, as early as age 5 from what I can remember. He continued his attempts by saying he would disown me if I didn’t follow his rules, that my extended family didn’t care about me and that my mother was a terrible person. He successfully alienated me from my mother for over a decade after they divorced when I was 10. His steady surmounting control to me as a child is very hard to notice and because he did this in private, mostly away from my mother’s presence, it was hard for anyone to see what was happening until it was too late. He also had us living in some very un-kept conditions and we were homeless for a time, living out of our car and hotels. How long were you involved with your batterer? It wasn’t until I severed my relationship with my father about 4 years ago that the abuse finally ended. My first boyfriend was emotionally and physically abusive but the source of my pain from abuse is mostly from my father. When did the abuse started? When I was in the relationship with the boyfriend, it started with emotional tirades, “You need to buy me this. You need to take me here. You know I am trying to find a job and so do this for me.” He would say things like that. It eventually got to the point that the boyfriend was demanding money from me, calling me names and then escalated to the physical violence. He was highly jealous

of any man that would speak to me and the time I spent from my girlfriends. He would demand that he go out with us on outings. When did you finally decide to leave? After 3 years I made the decision that I had to sever our relationship cold turkey. There was no pleasant or slow way about doing it. My past attempt of reason did not work. You cannot reason with people who are abusive or have control issues. What motivated you to leave? I knew that I deserved better for my life; I knew that God had a purpose for me and it wasn’t to endure this kind of hell I was experiencing. What made it hard for you to leave? I mostly stayed out of fear and embarrassment. I was living in an area with little job opportunities and had no feasible way of getting away from him without compromising my own safety. How would you describe those years? Hellacious. There’s no other word to describe it. The emotional battering, the fear, the thought of him putting his hands on me if I didn’t do exactly what he wanted me to do. He even tried to jump out of the car as I was driving down the highway at 75 miles per hour because I told him I wanted to break up with him. He had no direction and saw that I had a direction for my life. He tried everything he could do to break my spirit but God was always there to help me with the strength to finally leave. What kept you going through those times? My faith in God. God gives us the ability to love but it can also be a curse to us if we don’t know how to manage that love. That’s why one thing I talk about with others is healthy relationships. Love is so emotionally and hormonally charged and we definitely need to have a support system around us when considering getting into relationships. And what did you do afterwards? I moved to a much better place with more opportunities. I went on to work for some great corporations and the government. What sort of help did you receive? What available resources did you utilize when you decided to leave? I had the help of a dear friend. During that time, did you know there were resources available in your community to assist families in domestic violence situations? At the time, I didn’t know that any existed. It’s not that easy to receive help when you live a small area and get the confidentiality, privacy and support you really deserve. There really were and are little resources available to this day in that place. Law enforcement was no

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help either. I placed a call to them because he came to my home after I warned him not to show up and they said they were on their way twice but never showed up. He did come to my home and tried to get in the house but eventually left. That’s when I knew I had to leave that place and I’ve never been back.

How did you see life during those years? needed to get this person out of my own life before he killed me. How do you see life today? I try to live each day to the fullest and am still hopeful and optimistic. I also have an even greater purpose than ever before by my own standards and not by anyone else’s. What are the steps or things you did that has helped you move from being a victim to a survivor? Facing my past, you can’t ignore what happened to you in your life, good and bad. The truth WILL set you free in ALL things. When I finally admitted the abuse from my childhood, it became easier to be true to myself and finally heal. Therapy was a big help with a sympathetic psychologist who was willing to also assess my experience with my father and help me understand more about his behavior. Also breaking away from my own shell and sharing my experience with others and a desire to help others become empowered with information has been another way I have healed. I don’t believe in self servitude. As a believer in Jesus, we see how He was I try to live by that following, not with the title of a Christian but as a follower of Christ and truly respecting others no matter the religion and background. There’s a difference and even with religion, people can be tied to the negative of their past because of what most religious institutions teach. How do you feel about the issue of domestic violence in our communities? There needs to be a greater national effort to rally support for domestic violence. Nationally we lack a unified voice. I still get questions from people who want to know where do they start to get help for a loved one or even for themselves, how do you safety plan, etc. It’s sad that after all this time there is no national voice for domestic violence and the general public don’t know NNEDV or NCADV. The general public vaguely knows what The Hotline is. I have been speaking about this for quite some time now and have encouraged the DV community to have a greater voice. .

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What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is fear itself so I don’t speak fear and set out to plan my steps. I speak action and I do what I set out to do, no matter how long something takes. I had a teacher who used to say “Plan your work and work your plan.” What are you most proud of? I am self taught in many areas and so I am proud of my ability to learn new things. Can you tell our readers what you are currently doing to educate your community? I am the founder of CourageNetwork. com which is an international website for domestic violence survivors and domestic organizations. We provide resources, information and interviews to help educate the public on the dynamics of violence. I also have a radio program called Courage Empowerment Forum on www.party934.com where we cover a range of social issues. I also do public speaking and consulting for non-profits to developservices. Are you living a life on purpose? Absolutely, everyday. What steps did you take to be where you are today? I constantly work to educate myself and to learn new things. Any goals or dreams you have yet to fulfill? LOL! Everything. The sky’s the limit. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I see myself helping younger people understand healthy relationships and the warning signs of domestic violence before they become casualties. What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for my own personal faith and relationship with God. This is something no one else can teach you to have. What would you say to women and teenagers who say “It’s not his fault”, “He will change”, I will change him” or “When I have a baby for him, the baby will make the situation better”. I speak on behalf of women and men who have these thoughts. Abusers rarely change and it’s about control. I come from a family where the abusers where both male and female, my own grandfather and grandmother. Women abuse too but most of women’s abuse is manifested psychologically, men physically. We also must acknowledge the growing numbers of LGBT out there that are facing abuse.

None of it is right and victims must understand they will never be able to change the individual. They need to leave the person and leave with acomprehensive safety plan already in place. What would you like to say to survivors recovering from domestic violence? Take steps to empower yourself; no one can do this for you. You are here for a purpose and a reason. Don’t feel angry at yourself for the abuse that happened, but feel angry if you do nothing to change your situation to become a better person for yourself. We have to get to the point where we love ourselves with true love, not masked over with clothes, jewelry, hair or makeup, but accepting ourselves and with a heart to help others. If you are empowered then blessings will come because you are equipped with the knowledge and mindset to act in a proper way to accomplish great things. That greatness has nothing to do with celebrity status; it has everything to do with changing your own personal world first for the better which transcends to the world around us. Anything else you would love to share with our readers? Healing, like with anything, takes time. There is no set time for you to take what has happened to you and feel like you can move on. Memories of the past will always be there but they don’t have to control you. Also, don’t let family and friend minimize what has happened to you and violate your privacy. Be careful who you choose to sit in the front row of your life as you heal. Remember you are a great person, unique and exceptional! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for your advocacy work Lyn Thank you for taking on this issue of domestic violence and helping countless people! It is the least I can do, thank you.

SURVIVORS ARE NOT VICTIMS

They ARE Over It! Xceptional Woman Monthly....giving survivors a platform to BREAK THE SILENCE! Want to share your story? Email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com


Christina Mial

Can we meet you? I am a 33 year old single mother of four beautiful children whose ages range from 16 to 2 years old. I reside in the state of North Carolina, where I was born and raised. I am currently in my third year of college, pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. What do you do? I handle the Public Relations for a clothing boutique based in North Carolina called CuteStylz. In addition to that, I also make personalized gift baskets and I am praying it turns into a successful business by the end of 2011. You are a domestic violence survivor? Actually I like to use the word OVERCOMER. I feel that while survivor is such a big word, to actually remove yourself from domestic violence situations takes courage and requires us to make big steps in our lives. As victims we are often inferior to our abusers. When one overcomes a situation they gain superiority. Taking my life back I know that I overcame! So I would say that I am a domestic violence overcomer. How did you first discover you were being abused? Oh wow. How did I first discover I was being abused? Well, honestly speaking, I entered my first abusive relationship at a young age. The guy could clearly see that my self-esteem wasn’t as high as I pretended that it was and he used it to his advantage. I experienced mental abuse before It got physical. He would say things to tear me down emotionally more than I tore myself down

He embarrassed me in the presence of people and he was very jealous of my family. How long were you involved with your batterer? A day with anyone that doesn’t respect and appreciate you is too long. I wasn’t in just one relationship that was abusive. It was almost as if that was what I assumed my life was worth. If I add up all the years consecutively that I was in abusive relationships, I would have to sum it up to about 11 years. When did the abuse started? When I was 17, I learned that abuse comes in more than one form. The emotional abuse was introduced to me then. My first experience with physical abuse came when I was 19 years old. How was he abusive towards you? I was beaten, degraded, sexually assaulted and emotionally drained. Unfortunately, every aspect of abuse there is, I have experienced. I remember once, attempting to go back to school to further my education and it was turned around to be used against me to make me feel bad about myself. I have always been smart, so anyone who has or is suffering abuse shouldn’t feel it has anything to do with your intelligence level, but I remember just the way I talked being used against me. I was scared to even open my mouth sometimes. Hearing someone call you “college girl” the way he used to say it can take the pride out of it! Did he abuse you in the presence of your children? When I knew I was going to answer this question, all types of responses ran through my mind. Does it really count as being in the presence of my children if they were technically NOT in the room? Does it really count as being in the presence of my children if they technically never SAW him hit me? I came to the conclusion no matter how I tried to sugar coat it, YES HE DID. They heard the arguments. They saw me cry. They saw me walked around explaining the bruises. They saw how my spirit was so broken that I could barely face myself in the mirror, let alone them. They knew. I didn’t give them credit for being the bright children I raised them to be. Why did I think I was “hiding” it from them? Was abusive towards your children too? Just the fact that my kids had to witness what I was going through was abuse in itself towards them. And how are your children doing now? My children are doing great. I didn’t realize how many times they felt like they had to walk on eggshells in their own home. It never dawned on me the effect my decisions to stay were having at the time. Every day is a new

step towards growth, but they are growing! When did you finally decide to leave? I think my “I can’t take it anymore” moment came when I really, truly sat down and looked at it through the eyes of my children. Up until that point, I always convinced myself it would get better or he would change. What motivated you to leave? Just knowing that there was more for me out there. And when I started going to church and developing a relationship with God I started looking at myself the way God looked at me. It wasn’t an overnight process, it took time and prayer, but I eventually got to the point to learn my own strength. My pastor’s favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11. I started reading it and then I started hearing it. This was NOT the expected end God had for me. I started reminding myself; God gave His ONLY son to die for ME on the cross, so why would THIS be what He gave His life for? What made it hard for you to leave? I laughed out loud at my reasons for staying. In each and every situation it was because he was doing something for me that I couldn’t do for myself at the time. Although abusive, he was also my provider. I didn’t look at it like I could do it on my own. I looked at things like, well if I leave what will I do about this or what will I do about that? To be honest, there were times I just didn’t want to leave. As miserable as I was at times, I felt like well at least I am sharing my misery with someone. I just didn’t want to be alone. How would you describe those years? I would say those years were dark, depressing, yet building. I know my last wording threw you off right? Well this is where I am in my life. As ugly as those years were, they prepared me for moments such as now. Some of the things I went through, I no longer look at them like I went through them for myself. Although my choices landed me in certain situations, how would I be able to tell my story if I didn’t live through it? How would I be able to tell someone, you CAN get through this if I didn’t know it to be true? Although it was a painful time in my life and just being in the situations hurt a lot of people around me, I walked away knowing so much. While living it, I truly can say I just existed. Although I was a mother and that should have been my focus and drive, I truly was just going through the motions of life. I smiled, but I was not happy. I would sing, but the song was not truly there. I felt empty. What kept you going through those times? Although at the time I didn’t recognize it for what it was, it was nothing but the GRACE OF

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GOD that kept me going. Even then His hand was over me and my life. That is why He is so awesome. Even when we don’t love ourselves,

did not want to utilize them. I convinced myself numerous of times that it wasn’t that bad. I would say things to myself like, “it’s not that He does. I look back at moments where I have bad, I don’t need to go to the shelter” or “it’s not that bad, I don’t need to call the police”. heard different outcomes of the situations that But Interact and the North Carolina Coalition I have been in. I have learned of the sisters, against Domestic Violence were always at the daughters, mothers that did not make it. I know back of mind. I remember calling and hanging about the ones who are scarred for life because up or calling and getting advice but then of the things they experienced. I remember one later deciding it wasn’t worth the follow up. time doctors said I would never look the same. They told me that my face would forever have How did you see life during those years? some kind of disfiguration to it even if I did I didn’t. I viewed it through the eyes of have some kind of surgery. BUT GOD! God those that abused me, worthless. I almost was said, No that is not so. I have truly been blessed. convinced that, that was all there was for me. And what did you do afterwards? How do you see life today? I started talking about it. Giving it a name, Now I am living to live again. I see purpose in recognizing it for what it was helped me. As my life. I see fulfillment. I am doing things I victims, we do not want to admit we are vicfeel I would not be doing if I was still living to tims. We do not want to accept the fact that please and love a man that didn’t love me back. “yes, I am being abused”. It sounds so harsh. Life today, for me, is truly a blessing. Every Well, it is what it is. No matter how many morning that I wake up, God grants me brand times we say “he does this but he doesn’t new mercy and brand new grace. Now I see do that”, abuse is abuse! Period! So talking life through the eyes of my Heavenly Father. about it helped me heal and it helped others I am the daughter of a KING. I love that the realize that they too were worth more than color purple is affiliated with domestic violence what they were capping their lives off to be. awareness. Purple represents royalty. We are What available resources did you utiprinces and princesses of the Most High God! lize when you decided to leave? And that is what I see when I look in the mirror! Talking to the Pastor of my church helped What are the steps or things you did that me tremendously. Although the ministry is has helped you move from being a victim not openly practiced at our church right now, to a survivor? my pastor has Silent Sins in the Church, a Praying and my own personal miniaministry designated for victims and survivors ture 12 Step Program {it just wasn’t a full of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Talking 12 steps}. I admitted that I was abused. I to her helped me a lot, plus she had over 16 stopped talking around it and started calling years experience at Interact so she knew a lot the kettle black. I accepted the fact that I wasn’t of what I was saying without me even saying just going through it alone. I released the shame. it. I also went to therapy. I know a lot of people The power in it was the secrets of it and I took shy away from it but it truly helped. Just being that away. I sought God and realized without Him able to talk to an unbiased person helped me to I would not be able to do anything. see that what I was going through really was How do you feel about domestic violence in something I didn’t need to go through. Naturally our communities? talking to family and friends, they are going to I feel that it goes on far more than it is talked tell you to get out, or leave bad situations. That about. Unfortunately a lot of young people is what they should do. But it is not easy; at think that is what they are supposed to do. It least it wasn’t for me, to listen to those closest is disheartening to see young women and men to me. I also read the Bible as well as other self accept domestic violence as a normal part of a help books. I just started building myself back  relationship. I do not feel that there is enough up from the ground up. I started praying and education and aware ness when it comes to doasking God for forgiveness and asking Him to mestic violence. It is a hard topic to talk about and help me help myself. I needed to learn how to love it makes for many debates when in a room full of myself all over again. opinionated people. At that time, did you know there were The statistics for those affected by domestic vio lence are so shocking that the fact that it doesn’t resources available in your community make breaking news everyday is just amazing to to assist families in domestic violence me. Again I stress the level of awareness in not high situations? enough. But I am proud to say I feel like that is I knew that there were resources available, but I

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going to change. No, not going to change, but it IS changing. Advocates are speaking out more. Magazines such as this one are providing outlets and information. More victims are standing up for themselves and taking their lives back!

What is your greatest fear? I use to fear that my daughters would grow up and date men that abused them. I have more faith now that this will not be so. But it is a fear in itself in regards to the cycle continuing. If you would be granted one wish, what would it be? I just want the Lord to continue giving me the strength to tell my story. I don’t necessarily believe in wishes, but I do believe in the power of prayer. I pray that I continue to live a life pleasing to God. I pray that I stay in tuned with Him and He hears my prayers to heal the broken hearts and sad minds of the victims all over the world. I pray that I never give another man that much power over me again. I know I was supposed to name one, but this is my prayer when it comes to domestic violence What are you most proud of? I am proud of CHRISTINA! The woman I am and the girl I was. Can you tell our readers what you are currently doing to educate your community? Aside from this magazine that I plan on submitting monthly testimonials for, I also plan on assisting my Pastor with her ministry, Silent Sins in the Church, when the time comes. I am already thinking about what to do in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it is still 11 months away! I support the local Interact Chapter. I constantly research the statistics so that I can be knowledgeable when it comes to facts about domestic violence. Also, I donate items to crisis centers and shelters for women so that when they do make that first step, it will be a little easier to have some of the basic necessities. Are you living a life of purpose? You know if you had asked me this two years ago, I wouldn’t have known what you meant. But today, I can say YES I AM! My life is not about the job I have, the car I drive, or even my education. It is not about me at all actually. Exodus 9:16 tells us: But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Any goals or dreams you have yet to fulfill? I don’t think it is that I have yet to fulfill them; I think it is I have yet to arrive. The


promise that God spoke over all of our lives when we were still in our mother’s wombs was fulfilled at the moment He spoke them. I just have gotten off course a couple of times and delayed my arrival. I do believe though, even with these detours of life I have taken, once I reach my destination, they too will be used for good Where do you see yourself in the next five years? In five years where do I see myself? Well, I WILL be a proud business owner. I will be a vessel that is used to reach many and touch lives with my story W h a t a re y o u m o s t t h a n k f u l f o r? My life, health and strength. I am thankful because those things that I have endured that could have taken my mind, didn’t and I still have my sanity. I am thankful for the strength I had to walk away. I am thankful for my children and the fact that the things they experienced at young age did not stunt their mental growth. I am thankful to be spiritually connected to a house of worship where I learn and am thankful for my teachable spirit. I am thankful for the people that have been placed in my life, whether their season is over, just beginning, or still in session. I am thankful for the kind heart I am blessed with.I am thankful for all the gifts that have been instilled in me. Mostly, I am thankful because though I do not know what tomorrow holds, I KNOW who holds tomorrow. What would you say to women and teenagers who say “It’s not his fault” “He will change”, “I will change him” or “When I have a baby for him, the baby will make the situation better”? I say, “Honey, I thought the same thing!” And honestly, we genuinely believe thesethings to be true. We do not have the power to change him. Don’t get me wrong, the ability for him to change is there, but W E cannot do it. A man has to want to change on his own. He has to be willing to admit he has a problem and he needs help. We can give him all our love, we can submit to him totally, and we can change everything about ourselves to make him know WE TRULY LOVE HIM,but until his heart is acceptable to it, it is NOT going to happen. Often times, bringing a baby into the situation makes it worse. And it is so unfair to that baby. Thebaby is innocent, doesn’t understand the cruelty of the world, and then we decidewe have to have one, we make the baby a victim. It is not fair to do that to anyone, let alone a new life. It can be considered selfish if the only reason we want to bring a child into the world is to make a man

love us better or to make our situation better. When we sexually give ourselves to someone we are forming ties, soul ties that are strong in itself. Having a child with someone,especially in a relationship strengthens these ties and makes it harder to let the person go. We are connected to them for life and often times abusers feel that they have us anyway, so why change anything about themselves. I say, start loving yourself as much as you love him. This may sound crazy, but once you do, you will start to see he doesn’t deserve you if he will continue to treat you the way that he does. That’s deep and powerful Christina. What would you like to say to survivors recovering from domestic violence? I am SO PROUD of you. Because of people like you, you just gave one more person hope. Because of you, you just told the world, we’re not going through that anymore. Because of you, you have told someone, “You are not alone”! Because of your decision, which in itself is one of the HARDEST choices we have to make, the statistics have changed. In our favor! You are showing someone,including me, that it is hard but it is worth it.WE ARE WORTH IT! I thank you for choosing life. For the woman that thought taking her life was her only way out, she knows that is not so. You walking away have spoken life into so many lives. Continue to grow my s i s t e rs a n d c o n t i n u e t o s h a re y o u r story! Anything else you would love to share with our readers? Yes, if you do leave and you go back. DO NOT BE ASHAMED. Do not feel that you are stupid or that the world is going to look and point at you. You are still on the potter’s wheel and you are still being molded for the greatness that has been called upon your life. If you leave an abusive relationship and you return, don’t feel you still have to remain in silence. There is strength in words and things will turn around. I pray that the piece of me I was able to share with you in this interview gave you some hope, some strength, some courage. I look forward to hearing your stories as well in the years to come.

“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die, and the choices that we make are ultimately our responsibility.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“No onc can make you feel inferior WITHOUT your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t Sit Back and Watch Your Life FALL APART Talk to a TRUSTED PERSON or

Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY) Anonymous and Confidential Help 24/7 or Your State DV Coalition (Contacts listed on pages 11 thru 13) Follow us on

Thank you for sharing your story with our readers Christina! You are always welcome sis!

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DUMB-MESTIC SILENCE

We wonder how a woman can stay in an abusive relationship and call it safety. But do we truly care about her or is it just to call her stupid in her MIRAGE? We SHOUT SHE’S A DUMB THIS OR THAT, but WHISPER HE’S NOT A MAN. POINT BLANK: You have no business PUTTING YOUR HANDS ON A FEMALE unless it’s a MASSAGE. Do I fault the woman who went for the DOLLAR SIGNS after seeing the STOP SIGN? Ladies take your time to see the OBVIOUS. And NO MAN SHOULD RUSH YOU. It doesn’t matter what he’s “GOING THROUGH” You make no excuse for a BLACK EYE when there’s no GRAY AREAS. I don’t care if he LOST HIS JOB: NO MAN SHOULD TOUCH YOU. I understand that the PHYSICAL was once MENTAL and EMOTIONAL ABUSE that GRAVITATED to this GRAVE STATE. But LOVE ISN’T A PUNCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION. LOVE ISN’T JEALOUSY, LOVE ISN’T ENVY, LOVE ISN’T INSECURITY, LOVE ISN’T PAINFUL, LOVE ISN’T CERTAIN DEATH, LOVE ISN’T A BUNCH OF PRESCRIPTIONS. Some of you may HIDE THE PHYSICAL BRUISES, but CAN’T HIDE THE EMOTIONAL BRUISING. Some of you may have kids, so you lie and say it’s DONE FOR FAMILY. Some of you are so focused on how you look on his arm in the PUBLIC EYE that you ignore the PRIVATE BLACK EYE. Most times his insecure being will make you RUN YOUR FAMILY. But for all of you. It’s an INSECURITY inside an INCONVENIENCE which seems INESCAPABLE. Yet EVERY NIGHT YOU’RE PRAYING and EVERYDAY YOU’RE TRYING. If you TURN YOUR BACK. He’ll PUSH YOU DOWN. If you STAND TO FACE HIM, he’ll SIT YOU DOWN. So EVERYDAY YOU’RE WORRIED and EVERY NIGHT YOU’RE CRYING. You don’t have to take this. But with you there’s always some REASONING. Stop LOOKING OUT for him and SEE A WAY for you. Stop MAKING EXCUSES FOR HIM. This may START WITH YOU, but it LEAVES OUT to go to school WITH YOUR CHILDREN. So stop loving HIM more than your children. Stop TAKING ABUSE FROM HIM. Can you other females imagine being the woman who sits at home because she has no one to talk to, so she contemplates suicide because DEATH WILL BE BETTER? Can you imagine HOLDING IN AIR because you’re too afraid to EXHALE and be noticed? Shouldn’t you be the woman to say: “Girl please BREATHE”, because her BREATH WILL BE BETTER. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE isn’t a PHOTO OP or ANNUAL DAY. This is the PICTURE OF A PERSONS LIFE 365. COMFORT has to FIND A HOME and not be in the DAMN STREETS. Yet some of you “so called friends” will say: “Well if she stays there , then that’s on her.” Well if you haven’t walk in her shoes, don’t tell me about her DAMN FEET. Do you know about KEEPING QUIET when you HAVE A VOICE? Do you know about CONSTANTLY BEING BEAT to only hear “I’m sorry, it won’t HAPPEN AGAIN?” Do you know about STAYING IN YOUR PLACE, so he won’t STAY IN YOUR FACE? Do you know what it is to know a PUNCH IS AROUND THE CORNER because he’s SLAPPING AGAIN? I make no excuses for the person who ACCEPTS THIS, but I need RESOLUTIONS for the ladies who need us to OPEN OUR MOUTHS because his HAND IS OVER HERS. She doesn’t need to be TALKED ABOUT while being WALKED UP OVER. She needs a friend to PULL SANITY OUT THE GRAVE before we’re STANDING OVER HERS. We can say CALL THE POLICE, but if they take too long we may as well CALL THE CORONER. And you FAMILY COURTS... If there’s SOME JUSTICE FIND IT. When we NEGLECT HER because it’s NOT OUR BUSINESS,

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we NEGLECT A HUMAN to go ABOUT OUR BUSINESS. This isn’t just DOMESTIC VIOLENCE... It’s DUMB-MESTIC SILENCE.

SEVEN SECOND THOUGHT....

Maybe we don’t take this serious because it doesn’t involve us. Maybe we feel it’s a person’s personal business, so we don’t involve us. But in either circumstance what we’re doing is giving the strength to the antagonizer. Whether that be male or female. I wrote this for females, but there are some of you women who are just as ignorant as these guys that beat their gfs/wives. And you type of women are the worse because you hide behind the fact that you’re a woman DARING a man to hit you back. This is a problem on both fronts. As a man we should WALK AWAY, WALK OFF or WALK OUT, because A WALK is a STEP AWAY FROM A PROBLEM and a STEP INTO A COOL DOWN. We have no business PUNCHING a woman as if she’s a TIME CLOCK when it should have been a TIME OUT. But even at the height of US being the problem, you ladies need to stop providing excuses and hiding abuses. You blame it on YOU NOT COOKING. The CHILDREN BEING TOO LOUD. He THOUGHT YOU WERE CHEATING. He LOST HIS JOB. STOP BEING THE DAMN EXPLANATION FOR HIM and START BEING THE EXAMPLE FOR OTHER WOMEN. I’ve seem too many women who have CHOSEN HOMELESSNESS, so you have no excuse to say it’s because it’s HIS HOUSE and you have NO WHERE TO GO. I see too many women SPEAK OUT to say that you have to KEEP QUIET. No one will know YOUR STRUGGLE until they see YOUR TRIUMPH. If you’re in an abusive relationship you CAN NOT CHANGE THAT MAN, but YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR SITUATION. You STILL HAVE A VOICE even when you chose to USE SIGN LANGUAGE. Remember HIS WEAKNESS can ONLY COME when you finally find YOUR STRENGTH that’s ALREADY THERE... REMEMBER: We can steadily WIPE AWAY YOUR TEARS, but IT MEANS NOTHING when you KEEP HIM THERE. A FRIEND can only DO SO MUCH until YOU HAVE TO DO the LITTLE NEEDED... SEVENJ. Seven Ouinspirations Johnson is a motivational speaker, talk -show host and author. He resides in New Orleans and loves to write his own quotes. You can read more of his works via The Heat magazine and one-tenmag.com. You can also have access to his inspiring quotes daily by visiting him on facebook: QUINSPIRATIONS by SE7EN

“I don’t worry about enemies; I refuse to fight what I’ve already won.” “When you DRIVE DOWN THE HIGHWAY OF “ATTEMPT” and can only find an OCEAN OF FAILURE... You DIVE IN and SWIM AGAINST THE ODDS TO GET BACK TO your STARTING POINT OF “TRY”


Rule

Your World Don’t Blend in, SHINE!!!

LOVE/HOME|CAREER|HEALTH/ ETC Hello, its channel RYW(Rule Your World), the ultimate maga-television show. Welcome to the first edition of Rule Your World with Shola, where we interact about everything from relationships, career, family, transitions, crushes, our first kiss, aspirations, beauty, fashion, spiritual growth, well being, the good, the bad and the ugly, ANYTHING you want us to talk about, shine on sisters. Rule Your World with Shola also focuses on women’s inner and outer beauty, so every month, we will feature a confident woman as our model of the month, are you one of our confident women fit to grace our page? If yes, send in your picture and a bio data about you. Also every month, we will spotlight self starters, who own or/and run their businesses, small, medium or large, is that you? or do you know a self starter? Send their info our way. I am committed to empowering the total mind, body and spirit of every woman. Therefore, I am looking forward for your suggestions on what you want us to discuss as we tackle our problems while making our world a better place. Until then, here are some special gifts from a dear supporter of Xceptional Woman Monthly. I am giving away 8 copies of an empowering book called Bound to Be Free: Breaking free from domestic violence by Marva J. Edwards, a domestic violence survivor, pastor and domestic violence advocate who has turned her horrible experience to empowerment. To win, send your name, contact address and what you think about our first edition to us for your chance to win one of the books. Winners’ names will be published in the next edition. So grab your pen, your writing pad and start writing. Our theme for next month is Music. Write to me and tell me about what music means to you, your favorite music, album, your favorite artiste(s) and why. Tell me that special song that captivates your whole mind, body and soul, that special song that inspires you or influence your life. I have mine, and I will share with you in the next edition. I’m so excited and looking forward to reading from you. We are teaming up with wonderful companies to bring you selection of fabulous prizes just for being a reader of change. Remember that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely. It can be a beautiful experience of finding creativity, your heartfelt feelings, or a calm and quiet peace deep inside you! Stay Safe & Xceptional! Yours Truly, Shola Adebuga After: A Special thanks to Pastor (Mrs.) Marva Edwards of North Carolina. May God continue to bless you and yours!

WORDS ON MARBLE

FREE GIVEAWAY

Take your dream, attach it to a star and never lose it. If you lose it, you’ve lost your enthusiasm, you’ve settled for less. This will never do, fight like hell for your dream and get it. If you do, life will be very beautiful, wonderful and exciting.

THAT’S MY BABY …brag about your child

Akeelah Omoniyi

East Providence, RI

I AM AN XCEPTIONAL WOMAN I am an XCEPTIONAL WOMAN because I believe in me , I will love myself ~ Carol Freeman I am an XCEPTIONAL WOMAN because God saved me from my ex-husband who was choking me to death. Kaye Queen I am an XCEPTIONAL WOMAN because I was wonderfully made by God. Ann Harris, Dayton, OH I am an XCEPTIONAL WOMAN because I refuse to be silent on the issues against women and children. Shola Adebuga, Newport, RI I am an XCEPTIONAL WOMAN because I refuse to be defeated in life instead stand up to all obstacles. Mosun Adesanya, Lagos

**************************** Are you an XCEPTIONAL Woman? Do you want to share with us? If yes, send in your entry via Email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

In Bound to Be Free the reader will take a journey through my personal life while perhaps seeing part of their own personal journey, the reader will be both shocked and amazed as to the challenges that are presented. Despite any and all of the challenges there are innocent lives that must be protected and removed from the violence and the evil that is present in their lives. The reader will see Christian living, hypocrisy, evil, good, hurt, healing, discouragement crushed by relentless faith and the will to live in victory and not defeat. While the road is long, it’s one that will be traveled. The intent is to bring hope and strength to every reader and to touch lives in a way that brings about awareness and support for those who yet struggle with Domestic Violence and its adverse affects.

RHYTHMS with D’NIKE

I understand you may not have money to buy a HAT, but you still have to thank God for your HEART. Trouble dayz may be LONG, you can still thank God for your LUNG. See, by now many people are DEAD, but you still gat your HEAD. In that case, let the whole of your BODY praise da lord!!! Do you want inspiring words delivered to your inbox? Send a request to:

luckycindrex@yahoo.com

We are currently seeking personal stories by women about their experiences with domestic violence. If you would like to share your story, please email us: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com 30


Birthday Celebrations

Happy Birthday to Mayowa Ahmodu! Wishing you long life, good health and prosperity. Love Always, The Omoniyi Family

Love Notes

Y our special column to express your loving thought for that special person. Don’t be shy. Let it flow and let him or her know how dearly you feel. Write in not more than 100 words to: The Publisher, Xceptional Woman Monthly, 68 Dorrance Street, Suite 165, Providence, RI. Email: xwlovenotes@usa.com To My Angels, Jamal, Muiz & Akeelah Omoniyi, Your love is a miracle: it rescued me when the darkness of lost love drowned me. With you always, the most isolated desert is an oasis, and without you, the most plentiful forest is a wasteland; you’re my oasis in the desert of life. And so, my heart for you will never break, my smile for you will never fade, and my love for you will never end. Whenever I feel there’s nothing to turn to, I remember I have my angels I can always hold on to. You are indeed very special and angelic! Your Mummy, Rhode Island My Soul mate, Edwards, I’ll tell it to the world how much I love you! You brought back the smiles that have eluded me because of heartaches of the past. I’ll never compromise that I love you. Marva Edwards, Greensboro, NC

Happy Birthday to my handsome brother, Dele Adebuga of North Carolina. You’re loved and cherished! Kisses, Shola Is your child celebrating birthday next month? If so, share their picture and any other message you want to add via xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

SPECIAL SHOUT-OUTS • Birthdays • Weddings • Graduations • Get Well Soon • Engagements • Baby Showers • Christening • Promotions • Etc.

* Hadjia Mariam (mama Latifat) of N. Providence, RI, you are loved and will forever be appreciated and admired. Remain blessed. Shola Adebuga

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$9.99 for 1.8 x 4 with photo Call 401-516-1208 for forms

What Life Has Taught Me? Life has taught me that the world belongs to those who have great dreams and what It takes to pursue it. Shola Adebuga, Newport, RI

Life has taught me that goal setting is necessary for lofty accomplishments. Jona Ibona, Oshodi, Lagos

The greatest lesson I have learned is not trust so easily because you never know what hides behind another eyes. It’s sad but it’s true. So I suppose life has taught me that the only person I can completely trust and love is myself. It’s also taught me that doing so is a difficult and continuing process. Laurain Gray Pittman, Detroit, Michigan Life has taught me that without discipline, our dream of greatness will elude us, great people are disciplined. Bose Adebuga, Columbus, Ohio Life has taught me that illiteracy makes people complain even in situations where things are done to their advantage. Betty Adex

Abiola Sweetheart, I always wonder why the creator decided to design you in such a wonderful way because you always appear in a super wonderful way. Your Wifey, Folashade Ahmodu, Texas

Life has taught me to be nice to all people, even when I don’t want to be nice.

Oyinlola, A gift of jewelry is expensive, a gift of money is appreciated, a gift of roses is lovely. A gift of my thought of you, is priceless my love. Your Best Friend, Ronke, Columbus, OH

Esther Akinwande, New York, NY

My Dearest Father, Even though my life didn’t turn out the way you had always wished, I will FOREVER love you and appreciate all your sacrifices and special love for me. You are one of the best dads in the world. xoxo Shola Adebuga, Newport, RI Dearest Wife, You sure know that am not good with words but one thing is certain, I love you and will forever love you! Prince Matuwo, Pawtucket, RI

Adewale Akeem Agali Anifowose, Lagos

Life has taught me that what is meant to be… will surely be… no matter what. Life has taught me to expect the worst from everybody, so when it happens I don’t loose my head and heart. While when they do better I can easily applaud it. Seun Duke, Lagos, Nigeria

Life has taught me that you get what you put into life. George Smith, Los Angeles, CA

Send your entries about what Life has taught you to “What Life Has Taught Me? to JMA Media Group Attn: What Life Has Taught Me, 68 Dorrance Street, Suite 165, Providence, RI 02903 or email: lifelessons@usa.com


Quiz of the Month

You Are Stronger Than You Think.

Brought to you by JMA Media Group

1. Who’s the world’s first female president? 2. Who was the first female to run for president of the United States? 3. Who’s the First female Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island? 4. Who was America’s first doctor? 5. Who was the first African American female USSC justice?

1.......................................................... 2.......................................................... 3.......................................................... 4.......................................................... 5.......................................................... Name:..................................................... Address:................................................. ................................................................. Email:.....................................................

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.................................................................. QUIZ OF THE MONTH ENTRY

Fill in the slip, cut and mail to : 68 Dorrance Street, Suite 165, Providence, RI 02903. No photocopies allowed.

..................................................................

The strength of a woman can not and should not be underrated or overlook. Women look out for themselves in various ways. We have some women (though, these woman are not babysitters) who agrees to babysit another woman’s child so that she could work. How often do we hear or read about men doing such? Even though some men are strong, but we, women gave/gives them the strength. Does that mean that women are stronger than men? Yes, women are indeed stronger, but the media and some other factors hinder us from utilizing it. At times, some of us are afraid to use our strength, and some uses the strength for something irrelevant. From mothers to sisters, to girlfriends, to wives, we all are the source of men strength (besides God). We give strength, so that means we have it in abundance to be able to give so much My wonderful fellow women; ponder through this, and you will realize just how strong you truly are. KEEP THE STRENGTH!! Bose Adebuga Nellylove15@yahoo.com

WOMAN OF THE MONTH Nominate & Win!

HUMOR

A WOMAN accompanies her husband to the

doctor’s. After his check-up, the doctor takes her to one side and says: “Your husband has a very severe illness, combined with stress. If you don’t do as I suggest, your husband will surely die. Each morning, be pleasant and make sure he’s in a good mood. Prepare him three delicious meals everyday and don’t burden him with chores. Don’t discuss your problems with him, it’ll only make his stress worse. And most importantly, make love often and satisfy his whim, if you can do this for 12months, your husband should recover completely. On the way home, the husband asks his wife:

“What did the doctor say” she looks at him and says: “You’re going to die”

THAT’S MY FAMILY Show off your family photos for a chance to win a family photo session. Email your photos to: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

FREE SUBSRIPTION FOR A YEAR

You believe in her. You can bet she has a

ORGANIZATION OF THE MONTH Each month, XWM highlights a not-forprofit organization that makes a difference. This month:

Name: Beauty For Ashes Models also known as M.A.D.V. Models Against Domestic Violence Founder: Demetrius A. Raines Mission: To help women become confident of themselves, living virtuous lives To build self esteem of women who have been victims of domestic violence To raise domestic violence awareness Producing fashion shows city wide donating to domestic violence charities. Bringing healing from the past hope for the future! Email: beauty4a2010@yahoo.com Phone: 919-758-0405 Website: www.beautyforashesmodels.com

ADVOCATE OF THE MONTH

heart of gold. You have seen her touch the lives of people. You trust she is a role model. The modern day Mother Theresa. You can nominate her as Woman of the Month! We are searching, so help us search for that ultimate woman who deserves to be honored for her virtues and contributions to womanhood. HOW:

E-mail your nominations to: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

If your nomination is picked and featured, you get XWM delivered to your doorstep FREE for a year!

Kathleen M. Schmidt Project Empowerment CEO/Chairman Weekly show dedicated to empowering survivors of Domestic Violence and Abuse as well as an outreach program with women’s shelters. Climb for Empowerment

http://www.climbforempowerment.com

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I Know My Spouse Challenge Mr & Mrs. Brown CONTESTANT: Ken Brown

QUESTIONS: 1. What’s you spouse favorite color? 2. Her Favorite tv Show 3. Her Best Friend’s name: 4. Her Favorite food 5. Favorite cologne 6. What’s the name of her makeup collection? 7. Who’s her role model 8. When is your spouse birthday?

RESPONSES: RIGHT ANSWERS 1. Pink Purple 2. Oprah Show Oprah Show 3. Shawna Shawna 4. Spagetti Baked Beans 5. Dolce Gabbana Dolce Gabbana 6. I don’t know Mary Kay 7. She has none Oprah 8. 1974 July 25/1974 Oops Ken! We are sorry to say that you don’t know your spouse so well. But here is a $25 Gift Card for entering our challenge. Contact us to claim your prize. Do you know your spouse so well? Like the back of your palm? And you think you‘ll get all our questions about your spouse right? Enter our “I Know My Spouse Challenge” for a chance to win “A Weekend Getaway for 2”, “Dinner for 2”, Plus the special “IKMSC” award. To enter our challenge, call 401-516-1204 or email: ikmsc@usa.com

CRAZY FOR LOVE

We are all human. That is why we do crazy things sometimes. Now you can share with us the craziest thing you did for love. All you need to do is look down memory lane and tell us the one crazy thing you did for love. You can make your confession and if we publish it, you might just win a $25 gift card. Send with title “Crazy for Love” to: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

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UPCOMING EVENTS DV SUPPORT GROUP

NMP Initiative (RI Chapter), a community domestic violence response program is offering a domestic violence support group for victims of domestic violence. Learn how to handle your situation as you progress through your life. Light refreshments will be served. It meets 1st Saturdays, 4-6pm. The 24 –hour hotline is 1”800”799”SAFE (7233) or TTY 1”800”787”3224 For details about location and the support group, call 401-516-1204 or email nmpri@usa.com We look forward to seeing you there!

1st Annual Walk For Safe Families & Safe Streets

No More Pain Initiative (NMPI) will hold its first public awareness and fundraising event t h i s f a l l . T h e w a l k o ff e r s t h o u s a n d s of people across Rhode Island a way to spend time with friends and family, learn about domestic violence, honor those lost to the tragedy of violence, support survivors of domestic violence, and raise money in support of NMPI’s mission to end violence. For participation, volunteering, sponsorship, call 401-516-1204 or email: nmpri@usa.com

Watch Out For The Official Launch

of XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Monthly & Annual XCEPTIONAL WOMAN PURPLE BALL coming up in October 2011. Featuring empowering advocates and special guest speakers from around the world who are using their voices to raise awareness on violence against women and using their strength to break the cycle. For more information, participation or sponsorship, Call 401-516-1208

XCEPTIONAL MODEL OF THE MONTH Models who are looking for the opportunity to be considered in XWM, please submit your bio and two non professional photos to our address. All models are chosen based on their images. We are looking for strong outgoing and ambitious individuals, who are dynamic and those who are willing to give the look we need. Email: Xceptionalmodels@usa.com

SONG OF THE MONTH

No More Drama- Mary J. Blige

(Talking) So tired Tired of all this drama You go your way// I go my way (no more, no more) So tired Tired of all this drama//Yeah (Singing) Broken heart again // Another lesson learned Better know your friends Or else you will get burned Gotta count on me // Cos I can guarantee that I’ll be fine No more pain (no more pain)// No more pain (no more pain) No drama (no more drama in my life, no ones gonna make me hurt again) // No more in my life Why’d I play the fool Go through ups and downs Knowing all the time You wouldn’t be around Or maybe I liked the stress Cos I was young and restless But that was long ago// I don’t wanna cry no more No more pain (no more pain x2 ) No more game (no more games messing with my mind) No drama (no more drama in my life, no ones gonna make me hurt again, no more) No more in my life No more tears (no more tears, I’m tired of crying every night) No more fears (no more fears I really don’t wanna cry) No drama (no more drama in my life I don’t ever wanna hurt again) No more in my life Wanna speak ma mind wanna speak ma mind Oooh it feels so good// When you let go Of all the drama in your life Now you’re free from all the pain (free from all the pain) Free from all the games (free from all the games) Free from all the stress (free from all the stress) So find your happiness I don’t know Only God knows where the story ends for me But I know where the story begins It’s up to us to choose // Whether we win or lose And I choose to win // Ohhhh... No more drama (yeah all I need, hide but nicely I need to know that you are free) No more drama Oh no x2 // No more x2 No more drama x2 // In my, in my... life So tired (I’m so tired) Tired of all this drama (Oh help me please....)


XPRESSION WALL Woe is me

Love is gone when it turns to life. How could she have known the terms of becoming his wife? She wore her favorite shades to cover the tan on her face, compliments of his fist, followed by a warm embrace. Countless scarves she collected in her chest to hide the passion marks of his finger prints embedded on her neck. He brought her the sweaters that sheltered her arms. Beneath them were bruises the never ending gift of his dashing wit and charm. Battered and beaten, the pain told no lies. When the doctor yelled “CLEAR” I died inside. Taunted and tortured, her muffled cry was never heard. At the closing of her casket, the dead had no words. Broken and belittled, she never seemed to hurt. Now memories of what used to be buried 6 feet in the dirt. The victim bid to rot, the guilty gone and remorse free. Her children now left for the suffering. On woe me. Keri Cormier Dallas, TX

Took my love

You took my love and pushed it away so it could not stay. You took my heart and tore it apart. You used and abused me for your own selfish gain, not thinking or caring about my hurt or pain. You took the world I knew and turned it upside down, suddenly everything was spinning around. You were supposed to love and protect me from the outside world and strangers, instead you brought fear in my home and you caused me danger. My home was supposed to be a safe place, yet suddenly harm and hurt were staring me in the face. I cried out for help and tried to run, no one was there, I had nowhere to turn. You brought me back to my living hell, you made it so I couldn’t even yell. You did things no person should ever have to go through, What did I ever do to you? No one deserves to be treated like they are nothing, but no thanks to you, I’m still

breathing. That day changed everything, but you didn’t care at what cost, at that point I felt all hope was lost. I tried to reason, I even tried to fight, but you just couldn’t see the light. It took strength and courage to stand up and make you pay, but nothing will ever erase the memories of that day. Now you’re gone and I still don’t have answers or closure and I probably never will, I can never express to you how I truly feel. Your memory still haunts me and I still see your face, I still can’t believe you hurt me so, why can’t I ever just let you go? Someday my heart will catch up to everything I know is true, someday maybe I’ll stop thinking about and loving you. Kathy R. Logsdon

Be very careful if you make a Woman cry, because God counts her Tears. The Woman came from a Mans rib. Not from his feet to be Walked On. Not from his head to be Superior, but From the side to be Equal. Under the arm to be Protected, Next to the Heart to be Loved. Anomynous

Letter to my body

Dear Brain: thank you for showing me how I deserve to be treated in relationships. Dear Eyes: thank you for letting me see my beauty that no-one will ever criticize again. Dear Body: may you be respected, looked after and lovingly touched. Dear spirit: may you be renewed with love, joy and happiness. Dear Heart: may you be loved for who you are and what you offer Believe. Accept Break the cycle Aaron “Hydyll” Madden

I Know My Worth

Things around are shaping me People around are hating me. My heart pondering on what the future holds My mind reminding me of what my past told. My heart hits and strikes hard The scary pictures makes me go mad. Am getting matured Holding on to my future Thinking on the stories untold Pondering on the pieces unpublished. My past asking me some questions My present keeping me in motion and My future giving me more emotion. I cant stop thinking about what life holds, has my steps made me go wrong? Or is it just me feeling wrong? I want to be strong, I want to keep on to my dreams, I have many things to be fulfilled, My future holds the best. I know my worth I am proud of been me. They will be proud of me soon if I hold on to my dreams. Nothing will stop me from achieving it. I am born to be great And I will do my best to make it. I KNOW MY WORTH

Favour T. Adams

Talk to US! Send your poems, comments, opinions or feedbacks to xceptionalwoman@usa.com Please include your full name and contact info. * Materials selected for publication maybe edited.

Become a fan of Xceptional Woman monthly by visiting www.facebook.com/xceptionalwoman

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SALUTING OUR TROOPS

Saluting Our Troops is dedicated to honoring the brave men and women of the Armed Forces for their unwavering courage, selfless service and sacrifice for the greatest country in the world -- the United States of America. A heartfelt thank you to military wives, children, families, caregivers and survivors. We appreciate you all!

Let’s Say Thanks: Send a Free Card to U.S. Troops Overseas Show your appreciation to hundreds and thousands through www.letssaythanks.com A unique website that gives you an opportunity to send a free printed post card to a U.S. military personnel stationed overseas showing your support and appreciation for their selfless service to our country any day of the year.

Want to Do More? On Serve.gov, you can find opportunities to support and engage service members and their families. From organizing a care package event to volunteering at a camp for military children, there are a number of key ways to get involved. Everyday our brave men and women in uniform make a selfless commitment to our nation. Now, it’s our turn to take some time to serve those that have served us.

CONTEST of the Month How has the military changed your life? Send your entries to win one of our fabulous prizes and a chance to have your experience published. Send your entries to: XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Monthly, Military Contest, 68 Dorrance Street, Suite 165, Providence, RI 02903 or email: xceptionalwoman@gmail.com

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MESSAGES OF THE MONTH Thank You so much for protecting me and all the other American citizens. You are true heroes and you will forever be in my thoughts and prayers. Know that those of us here at home are waiting for your safe return. Rosalind, Fort Worth, TX

MILITARY CHILD of the MONTH

Thank you for protecting our country. I am a cub scout. I look up to you because you are brave. Daniel, NY Thank you for serving our country. I have two brothers who have served in Iraq. One did two tours and the other has done one and will be joining you again this fall for another tour of duty. Those of you who choose to put your lives on the line for freedom’s sake are my heroes. I pray for your safety every day and trust that soon you will be safely home with family and friends. Thanks again. Ventura, DE

Madison Virginia, Warwick, RI SOLDIER of the MONTH

I just celebrated my first birthday - it was happy and safe, in part because of your work. Please stay safe and take care! - Matthew, 1 year old, Carmel, IN As the daughter of a veteran of Korea and Viet Nam, I want to thank you for your personal sacrifice. My father spent much time away from my brothers and I during our childhoods, but we each understood that it was helping others to keep their families together, and to have the same freedoms we had. Our country was built on the bravery of men like you! God bless you, and we will pray for your safe return. -St. Louis, Missouri Hello American Hero! Thank you for what you do for our country. We are so blessed to have brave men and women watching after our safety both day and night. You are such an inspiration to all of us. My son is so impressed that he wants to become a Marine! Take care of yourself and please remember that we’re thinking about you! - Angela, Charlotte, NC To our fine troops, Just know that this is one American who thanks you from the bottom of my heart. I am proud of each of you! Because of your sacrifice we can sleep in peace and safety. - Joseph

Major Lynn Currier, New York Army National Guard Photos courtesy Betty Melvin

MILITARY SPOUSE of the MONTH

Madlynn Lewis Robinson

Fort Carson, CO Married to Luke Melvin Robinson (US Army)


SPECIAL

FEATURE To those who are in a relationship, those married and yet to be married... This is a must read for all

IF I COULD TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME.....

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes. Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce.. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why? I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Tess. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her! With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Tess so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now. The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Tess. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again. In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live a normal life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage. This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.

She requested that everyday for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door every morning. I thought she was going crazy… Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request. I told Tess about my wife’s divorce conditions. She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. “No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce“, she said scornfully. My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, “daddy is holding mummy in his arms” His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office. On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her. On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Tess about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger. She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily. Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head. Our son came in at the moment and said, “Dad, it’s time to carry mum out!“ To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day. But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I

could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, “I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy.” I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind... I walked upstairs. Tess opened the door and I said to her, “Sorry, Tess, I do not want the divorce anymore.” She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. “Do you have a fever?” She said. I moved her hand off my head. “Sorry, Tess, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other any more. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.” Tess seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears.I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart. That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I ran up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead! I cried and cried uncontrollably and carried her for the last time from the room to the hall with tears streaming down my face and gazing at my only son, his tears rolling from his eyes, they made me cry even more. I had lost my love, my wife and a loving and caring mother and nothing I could do now to put the clock backward. I had all the time now to look at her motionless body in detail but I knew it was going to be only for a short while until she made her last journey to the Lord.....I held my son and wept again and again thinking of all the things I did not do for her when she was still alive and placed gently the flowers in her hands with my tears trickling on them...she was gone forever, all my tears would not bring her back . Publisher’s Note The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the automobiles, properties, the money in the bank, blah, blah, blah. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

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COMMEMORATIONS

RIP

Remembering the victims we lost to domestic violence. We love you but God loves you the most. R.I.P

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary. Mahatma Gandhi PUBLISHER’S NOTE This is the toughest list and hardest column that I have ever had to compile in my life. My heart and felt prayer goes to the families that lost a dear one to violence. Please don’t add your name to the list of the victims we have lost to domestic violence. I urge you to seek for help if you are being abused or feel like something is not right. Your life may depend on that split seconds of courage. We can defeat domestic violence and make it history if we can all come together and learn all about this global epidemic. EDUCATION & AWARENESS IS THE KEY. LEARN AND EDUCATE SOMEONE TODAY! Please be your neighbor’s, friend’s, sister’s or co- worker’s keeper, urge people you suspect are being abused “to talk to someone.” TRUE LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT! M: stands for date and year of murder Marquita Brown, age 25, M June 25th, 2010 Ohio Staria Silva, Dec 2010, Rhode Island Tracey Pytka, Dec 2010, Rhode Island Conrad Beaulieu, September 2010, Rhode Island Lisbeth Catalan, July 10, 2010, Providence, RI Brooke Verdoia, June, 2010, Rhode Island Julio Garcia, April 17, 2010, Providence, RI Linda Encarnacao, May 2009, Providence, RI Marylou, age 32, PA Roberta Abernathy (pregnant), age 22, IA Julie Abbott, age 40, MI Ashley Alvarez, age 4 CO Goshary Amir, age 2 KY Khadija Amir, age 2 KY Fatima Amir, age 7 KY Sidi Amir, age 8 KY

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Daysha Aiora, age 21 M Nov. 1, 2006 HI Jessica Avilas , age 15 NY Owen Clemens Ronika, age 15, Dayton, OH Corinnie Broadway, (Pregnant) AGE 14, KS Kayla, age 4, TN Louis Adams, age 26, FL Robin Adams, age 28, IN Cherica Adams, age 24, NC Jaime Abraham, age 17 PA Duke Acedo, age 8 CA Tracey Alvarez, age 23 CO Erica Alvarez, age 19 NY Liliana Alvarez (pregnant), age 19 NY Randell Adams, age 20 OK Andrew Albidrez, age 21 mos CA Shurkura Abdullah Aleem, age 21 MD Sarah Acevedo, age 24 MA Lydia Aguon, age 20 Guam Deborah Ali, age 29 SC Jay Allard, age 3 OH Rachel Marie Allard, age 2 Antigone Monique Allen, age 18 WA Maribel Alvarez, age 28 IL Margie Holodnak Davis, PA June Garwick, Age 35 M 1986 Sarah Gonstead, Mar 15, 1994 Madison, WI Kathleen Thompson, Feb 26, 2000 WI Debra Kukla, 2002 Saginaw, MI Charney Watt, 2009 Charlotte, NC Arlene Arocho, 43, Aug 14, 2010 Lakeland, FL Jennifer Freudenthal, Age 50, Webster, MA Pat Mackenzie Chesapeake, Virginia Jennifer L. Snyder, M March 2011, Easton, PA Micielle Cazan (Pregnant) age 38 NY Cramer Paulette, 47 MI Elizabeth Gilbertson, 60 WI Judith Gofe, 68 FL Eardley Susan, MN Amos Kizzy, 16 MI Erin Jones, 31 KS

Martin Felisha, age 16 OH Santaro Lisa, 18 IL Ashley Robyn, 20 CA Trevino Omar, 14 TX Sherri Denese Jackson, NC Davies Jesse (Pregnant), 26 OH Clark Krysta , 4 MD Valdez Ricardo, 6 MD Davis Janet, 42 CO Davis Jennifer, 11 CO Byrd Derrick Own, 10 NV Byrd Linda May, 8 NV Pamell Anne, 46 GA Rominger Sheila, 34 NC Rominger Kayla, 6 NC Rominger Kimberly, 6 NC Blair Sandy, 36, NH Blair Justin, 8 NH Allard Karen Berry, 25 OH Linda Shaw Thomas, NC Sonya Ratliff, NC Christina Maxa-Gross, NC Ashley Renee Karas , 16 NC Evans Samantha, 10 IL Evans Joshua, 8 IL Ashley Robyn, 20 Mundigler Jennifer, 19 WI Guarino Ashley, 22 PA Guarino Dreaux, 2 PA Guarino Orlando jnr. 11months Adshard Bass, NC Lil Micah Gibson, NC Tereece Roseboro, NC Derek Lackey, 13 TX Kristin Kudelka, 25 NY Katherine Helmet, 52 AZ Dawn Hacheny, 28 WA Kaliah Harper, 28 CA Lynn Harper, 33 CA Anna Kostka, 81 CA Yodit Kadelka, 25 NY

Do Not Let a Victim Die in Vain If you have a family member, friend or loved one who has been killed because of intimate or domestic violence, do not let their death be in vain. Access Justice Now, a non-profit dedicated to seeking justice on behalf of intimate and domestic violence victims, may be able to help. Go to http://www.accessjusticenow.org/ and fill out the Legal Assistance form at the bottom of the home page if you feel the death of your friend or loved one could have been avoided had authorities taken steps to enforce the law. Everyone Deserves Justice, Everyone!


PROCLAMATION WALL “ERASE THE VIOLENCE” CAMPAIGN Domestic violence is a serious crime that affects people of all races, ages, gender, and income levels. Domestic violence is widespread and affects over four million Americans each year; and one in three Americans has witnessed an incident of domestic violence. Let’s join hands and change this! “Erase the Violence” Eraser campaign is an innovative idea of No More Pain Initiative & JMA Media Group to reach out to the American public to spread the word that help is only a phone call away. We hope to reach out to schools, colleges, universities, faith based communities and the general public through this campaign. “The eraser is being sold to raise funds to support domestic violence agencies while at the same time raising awareness about this global epidemic, together we can combat this epidemic.” said Shola Adebuga, Founder, No More Pain Initiative. Please help us raise awareness of Domestic Violence and eradicate Domestic violence by purchasing one or more of our erasers at various supporting locations or by contacting us. Thank you! Purchase one or more erasers and have your name here, Special thanks to the following people for supporting our mission.

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Shola Adebuga

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Taiwo Onayinka

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Jamal Omoniyi, RI

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Betty Makoni

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Haseena Patel, SA

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Edinah Masanga

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed Dr. Joan Miller

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU?!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!! I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU?!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU?!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

I DENOUNCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE! Signed YOU!!

Xceptional

MEN Hall of Fame Declare your affirmation and love for the special woman (Mother, wife, sister, daughter, niece, aunt, friend, co-worker, fiancee,x or neighbor) in your life by purchasing a brick to lay a foundation of violence free world.

Make a charitable donation of $14.99 or more and Honor the Special Woman or Women in your life. Honorees names will be featured on the number of bricks purchased and will receive s special card in the mail AND you will receive an “XCEPTIONAL MAN T-Shirt in the mail.

My heartrob, the mother of my child, Mejeria Dachen, I will forever honor you and love you till the end of days. Love always, Isaac Dachen

I will always love you and prrotect you Ronke. Chris Aderanti, Columbus, OH

This is specially for you honey, Natalie Miller. Love Dare Oyeniyi Come rain, come sunshine, I will always cherish you and protect you my angel, my daughter, my baby, AKEELAH OMONIYI. Adewale Omoniyi, Father. Rhode Island My best friend, my guardian angel, my wife. Till the end of our days, I will forever cherish us! Greg Kilman

Know an Xceptional man? Recommend him our way by sending us a detailed essay about your nominee and why you feel he should be featured as our “Xceptional Man of the Month.” Essay nominations can be sent to

xceptionalman@usa.com. You will receive a notification from us if your “Xceptional Man” is chosen.

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XCEPTIONAL WOMAN Magazine  

* EDUCATE* ENGAGE* EMPOWER Xceptional Woman Magazine is the premier domestic violence awareness and advocacy brand for every woman and h...

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